OUTRAGED residents are demanding a referendum in Billericay to stop the town “merging” with Basildon.

Billericay residents also fear plans to build 2,010 new homes on the outskirts of their town would destroy the green belt – and their way of life.

About 300 residents piled into the arts theatre at Mayflower High School to express their dismay at Billericay Town Council’s plan to support Basildon Council’s proposals.

During questions at the end of the meeting, residents demanded a referendum take place in Billericay to decide where new houses should be built.

Jean Compton, of Highfield Road, said: “I have lived in Billericay for 56 years – since I was 12 – and it was nothing to do with Basildon. That’s how it should be now.”

Mike Andrews of Outwood Common Road, Billericay, said: “We want the referendum to include the whole of Billericay and ask do we agree, or disagree, with these houses and their infringement on the green belt here. And where exactly will they go?”

At the meeting, the town council was condemned by a number of residents.

Paul Hudson of Cavell Road, Billericay, earned cheers from the audience as he addressed councillors, saying: “The town council’s response to this consultation is not the response of the people of Billericay.

“The town council is elected by the people of Billericay and you tell Basildon Council what the people of Billericay want.

“We want to keep the green belt. We do not want this plan.”

Nick Langford, who lives off Outwood Common Road, said: “The European Convention on Human Rights gives me the right to enjoy my home.

“Not one member of the planning committee has approached me or the other people who live in this area to ask us what we think.

“We will fight any decision to build on this land all the way to a planning or public inquiry.”

The core strategy identifies areas in Basildon District where homes can be built between now and 2031.

Two weeks ago, when the town council held a meeting to discuss their response to the plans, the police had to be called after 200 residents turned up at the Billericay Day Centre. The venue could only accomodate about 120.

Confusion still surrounds the exact location of the 2,010 homes planned for Billericay.

Basildon Council’s local plan document, which sets out the planning precedent from now until 2031, proposes: - 1,400 homes to the west of Billericay - 430 to the east of Billericay - 180 to the south of Billericay However, the council is yet to release specific locations of where the houses could be built.

The council expects any building on the land to happen between 2022 and 2028.