BUILDING 86 new homes at the northern entrance to Braintree would lead to an “unnatural extension” of the area and would damage its character, experts say.

Planning officers at Braintree Council have made the call ahead of a crunch meeting where councillors will decide whether to give Greenfields Community Housing’s plan to build on land off Bovingdon Road, Bocking, the green light.

The Braintree-based housing group has been working on the proposals with George Tanner Ltd and would allocate half the homes as affordable, while another 40 per cent would be offered out for shared ownership.

Greenfields will provide more details about the scheme if outline planning permission is granted, but that appears unlikely after council officers recommended the proposals be thrown out.

In a report published ahead of next week’s meeting, officers say the overall impact on the historic nature of Bocking would be too severe and concerns over flooding and contamination of the proposed site have not been addressed by the applicants.

The report adds: “It is considered that the proposal would result in an unnatural extension of the existing built form of Bocking into the open countryside, harmful to the rural character of this entrance in the town of Braintree.

“Further harm would be caused by the insufficient information provided in relation to contaminated land and without this information the planning authority are not satisfied that the site is suitable to be used for residential development without causing long-term harm.”

Officers also say the number of homes proposed would need to be scaled back to ensure the development was not at risk of flooding and residents living there would have the “appropriate” level of garden space.

Both the Environment Agency and council Environmental Health department have objected to the scheme due to concerns over flooding.

Only two objections have been raised by the public but residents have voiced fears to the council about the impact the new homes would have on traffic, wildlife and services in Bocking.

Greenfields has accepted it is “inevitable” some harm will be caused by the new development, but argues the public benefits are greater.

Tuesday’s meeting takes place at the council’s offices at Causeway House, in Bocking End, and gets under way at 7.15pm.