THE historic village of Coggeshall remains one of the most picturesque settlements in north Essex.

It is filled with character and the scores of listed buildings scattered around are a regular reminder of its past.

But like so many places, Coggeshall’s rural setting and personality is seemingly under threat from development.

Up to 300 homes will be built on the eastern side of the town off Colchester Road, further reducing the gap between the village and the A120 bypass.

Widespread condemnation of the plans wasn’t enough to prevent Bovis Homes getting outline planning permission for the scheme. The developer is now looking to agree the details of the proposals with council bosses before building work begins.

Smaller developments are also being lined up in and around Coggeshall, but new housing is not the only topic of great frustration to many residents.

The Environment Agency is continuing to work on plans for a new flood defence which they say will protect the village from the River Blackwater.

It is aiming to dig up 13 million tonnes of sand and gravel near Cuthedge Lane to create a 155- acre flood storage area.

But the proposal has been met with fierce opposition from residents and the parish council, with critics suggesting it will be no more than an extension of the nearby quarry at Bradwell.

A public consultation saw 80 per cent of respondents say they were strongly against the proposals. Further drop-in sessions are expected to be held in the coming months before a planning application is submitted.

The Environment Agency has come out and said it will abandon the plans if permission is refused.