CONCERNS have been raised over the future of a much-loved piece of countryside after new plans for nearly 100 homes were unveiled.

The Flitch Way is five miles of flat, traffic-free countryside following the former railway line from Braintree to Bishops Stortford.

Loved by residents, it is perfect for walking, cycling and horse riding.

In the past the community came together to fight plans for a huge development surrounding the Flitch Way Country Park, between Braintree and Rayne.

The Brook Green proposals included up to 1,600 homes, a community centre, primary school, employment land and public open space on a site on the land.

The plans received the most objections in Braintree Council’s history.

Braintree Council refused the planning application in December 2017, but applicant Acorn Braintree lodged an appeal, and a public inquiry was held over three weeks in September 2018.

Campaigners, known as the No Brook Green action group, eventually claimed victory after a government inspector ruled against the housebuilder.

However, since then, developers have been given permission to build 120 homes on Gilda Terrace near the Flitch Way.

Despite the council refusing thise plans, the appeal was successful.

Now, an application has come in for a further 74 homes on land north of the Flitch Way.

Residents fear the site could be overwhelmed by the new homes.

The Friends of the Flitch Way, which is a volunteer group helping to maintain and improve areas for the benefit of the community, has expressed their concerns.

The group is helping to build a case to fight the latest application.

Trustee and secretary Sandra Reynolds said: “I was at both hearings for the Brook Green development and the smaller one recently and we said we were concerned they will just start nibbling away.

“Sadly, the planning inspector can’t guarantee that won’t happen.

“In both those appeals, they recognised how important the Flitch Way is, and to be fair, Braintree Council have fought all of these.

“It is such an important resource for the whole area.

“There are very few green spaces accessible to people, particularly with children, to walk, bike or use a wheelchair.

“It just isn’t the same if it is all surrounded by houses.

“If these houses are built, it will create an urban environment and I fear it will be the beginning of the end.”