RESIDENTS fighting against a green belt housing development near Pitsea have secured the backing of MP Stephen Metcalfe.

Mr Metcalfe, the Tory MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, pledged to work with the newly formed Bowers Goffird and North Benfleet Residents’ Association to oppose plans to build 800 homes on the site of Little Chalvedon Hall, off Pound Lane.

The land wa sbought by Nottinghamshire County Council last january for more than £4million as an investment for its pension fund.

A campaign by residents has already seen the proposals dropped from 1,300 to 800 homes, but people living nearby want it kept as farmland.

Mr Metcalfe pledged his support at a meeting of the residents group in the Gun Pub in London Road, Pitsea, attended by more than 100 residents.

He said: “It was literally standing room only. It was extremely encouraging to see so many people at the meeting. It is so important that local residents have their voices heard and meetings such as this provide a forum in which this can happen.

“I understand that additional housing is needed in Basildon but I do not believe that these proposals are the answer. These proposals fly in the face of local wishes, they are against the council’s green belt policy and they will do nothing to enhance the local area. I will continue to do all I can to ensure that my constituents are heard and that their views are taken into consideration by the council.”

Meridian Strategic Land, the planning agent for the county council, has yet to release the results of a public consultation or submit a planning application, but it is understood one is being prepared.

It was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Mr Metcalfe added: “I urge local residents once again to get in touch with either me or the council about this issue. We must garner as much opposition as possible to the developments and this can only happen if residents make their opinions known. I hope that if we work together, we can reach an outcome that is beneficial to local residents and the community as a whole.”