RESIDENTS have pledged to fight plans for all traffic from a 200-home estate planned for the former Ekco site to exit it via their quiet road.

People living near the site, between Thornford Gardens and Priory Crescent, which is earmarked for a £16.5million hospice, two four-storey office blocks and 200 family homes, have formed the Thornford Action Group to protect their quiet “haven”.

Bellway Homes, the developer behind themulti-million pound scheme, has assured residents the one to four-bedroom homes will only lead to a small increase in traffic at the estate entrance, in Thornford Gardens.

It says it will reduce traffic in Priory Crescent, where vehicles will turn into the hospice, offices and the new pub Marston’s Inns and Taverns is building, compared to when Prittlebrook Industrial Estate was active.

The neighbours fear the massive redevelopment will cause congestion in Thornford Gardens and at the exit on to Manners Way.

The action group’s founder, Margaret Smith, who moved to Thornford Gardens a year ago to escape traffic in Eastern Avenue, said: “If you have 200-plus houses you are going to have cars going backwards and forwards all the time.

“This quiet haven we have found is going to be noisier and more polluted.

“We had children riding their bikes in the street, doing stunts, at the weekend.

They aren’t going to do that any more. It’s going to change our lives completely.”

Southend Council, whose planners have been advising Bellway and charity Havens Hospices, which plans to build the 16-bed hospice as a replacement for its facility in Second Avenue, Chalkwell, estimate there will be 1.6 cars per house, but Mrs Smith fears there will be more.

She believes the headlights from cars leaving the estate will shine directly into the bedroom of bungalows in Thornford Gardens, drivers will race around the road to the other exit on to Manners Way, to avoid queuing, and people visiting the estate will park on the road.

The authority has carried out a traffic survey of the area, but is yet to release the results. St Laurence councillor Mark Flewitt said: “Thornford Gardens has a great deal to lose if this plan under-estimates the impact upon residents of this and surrounding roads.

“I have worked with Mrs Smith to form the action group to represent views and opposition to the known highway proposal.

“The sleep-walk towards a local highway disaster continues with the popular refrain of, ‘more housing’ overshadowing the huge challenge of an additional high incidence of car and trafficmovement to and from Thornford Gardens and on to Manners Way.”