CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 300 new homes between two villages should not be approved because the council is on course to exceed its housing target, an inquiry has heard.

Braintree Council's senior planning officer Katherine Carpenter made the announcement when outlining why Gladman Developments' two planning application to build either 300 or 265 homes on land off Church Street, Bocking, should be thrown out.

The plans are being put through a public inquiry after applicants Gladman launched an appeal against Braintree Council's non-determination of the application within the statutory 13-week period.

The inquiry, which took place at Braintree Town Hall last Thursday and Friday, was reopened after it was adjourned last summer due to a change in Government planning regulations.

Inspector Zoe Hill heard from representatives from Braintree Council, which opposes the planning applications, and applicants Gladman, which argues the need for homes in the district means it should be approved despite concerns over the impact the new homes may have on the countryside.

Ms Hill was told by planning officer Katherine Carpenter that despite there being no local plan in place in the Braintree district, the council was on course to beat its housing target for the five-year period between 2018 and 2023.

Ms Carpenter said: "Taking evidence into account on the basis of a forecast supply of 4,868 homes compared to a target of 4,598 homes, which represent a surplus of 270 homes and a five-year supply position of 5.29 years, I conclude that the five-year supply requirement for the district is satisfied.

"In addition as notified by the inspector in another inquiry, the council is continuing to add to its supply of housing land through decisions on planning applications and through progressing the local plan.

"Whilst such additional sites will be examined in future reviews rather than in current evidence, it is nevertheless a consideration in that it is action the council is taking to add to supply."

Gladman disputes Ms Carpenter's forecast and believes the housing target will not be met because it believes houses are being built at a slower rate than predicted by the council - thus meaning it would fail to hit its target.

Inspector Hill will rule on the applications for Church Street later this year.