CAMPAIGNERS who are battling plans to build 78 homes on a town centre beauty spot say they are not giving up their fight.

The Heart of Witham Preservation Group says it has asked for the Secretary of State to set up a public inquiry over the proposed homes and is encouraging residents not to lose hope the plans can be stopped.

The call comes as a petition launched online by the group gathers momentum.

It is demanding the railings in the town park – which are under threat by housebuilder Bellway’s proposed development which begins just beyond the park boundary – are saved.

Several sections of the railings are also rusted, missing or in a poor state of repair and the group wants to see them fixed.

The petition states: “We the undersigned hereby call on Braintree Council, as the present-day custodians of Witham Town Park, to preserve and restore the historic park railings for the ongoing benefit of the town, its residents and future generations, and to ensure that an important part of our history is not lost due to neglect or development.”

So far more than 600 residents have signed the petition but organisers are hoping to see it hit 1,000 so that Braintree Council has to discuss it at a public meeting.

Co-founder Rebekah McGrane said: “We’re still fighting against the development but if it is to go ahead then the very least we are asking for is that the railings are kept.

“We are not just doing this to make a fuss, this is genuinely something which we’re concerned about.

“We’re very pleased with how it’s gone so far. It started very quickly but has stalled a bit lately so hopefully we can get it going again.”

The group says having the railings in place makes it safe to use for children, allows wardens to lock it at night to stop anti-social behaviour and makes it suitable for community events as it is easy to keep the area secure.

Developers were given the go-ahead for the controversial 78-home development off River View in March after Bellway lodged a planning application with Braintree Council in November 2018.

The campaigners say that if they are ultimately unsuccessful in having the homes stopped, the railings will be the only thing to separate the new development from the town park.

The petition can be signed by searching “Witham town park railings” at, or by signing a paper copy at the town hall in Newland Steet.