Campaigners fighting a 1,500-home development next to a popular beauty spot have laid their case before a planning inspector.

On Tuesday, the 12-day inquiry into Acorn Braintree’s Brook Green development continued, with campaign group No Brook Green giving their evidence against the plans.

The developer wants to build the new estate either side of the Flitch Way between Braintree and Rayne, in a move which protestors say will mean the loss of open land between the two areas.

Emma Wood, representing No Brook Green, said: “The site covers the vast majority of the land between Rayne and Braintree and it would eradicate the distinction between the two.

“Effectively what would happen is the playing field planned would feel like a town centre playing field surrounded by housing.

“There would not be a distinctive community on one side and a distinctive community on the other.”

She added: “I cannot overstate the level of community spirit in Rayne and it would be a travesty if it was effectively join into Braintree just to provide this developer profits.”

Developer Acorn Braintree, which has also agreed to fund a new doctors surgery, primary school and highways improvements, argues the separation between the two settlements would be maintained by a space in between.

However residents of Rayne are worried about the loss of their village lifestyle, with more than 1,000 signing a petition against the initial application.

Mrs Wood said: “I understand this is not personal for the developer, but it is for us.

“We do not simply oppose development, we oppose this application on planning grounds.

“There have been huge amounts of technical documents served which the layperson struggles to understand.”

Mrs Wood also accused the developer of failing to engage with residents and said it had declined invitations to attend public meetings on more than one occasion.

She added: “The residents know their community and have an overall understanding of the site.

“This is why they have reacted so vocally and strongly against it.

“The negative effects cannot be underestimated.

“Residents are the ones who have to deal with the effects of the development long after the others involved here have gone away.”

Planning inspector Richard Clegg will be ruling on the developer’s appeal on behalf of the Housing Secretary.

Before the appeal started the developer dropped 100 homes from its plans, moving the location of the primary school after advice from Essex County Council.

The inquiry is expected to continue until the end of next week.