GREEN belt campaigners have handed more than 1,000 complaints to Basildon Council in a bid to stop thousands of homes being built.
Billericay residents who formed action group, Erasing Billericay Green Belt, have been rallying across the town to try to encourage as many people as possible to make their views heard.
They created their own public consultation document to make it easier for the public to take part.
The campaigners have since handed copies out with information to commuters at Billericay train station, shoppers outside Queen’s Park Co-operative store, and customers at the Chequers pub in High Street.
In just eight hours on Saturday, they collected 826 responses.
Mike Andrews, who hand delivered the complaints to Basildon Council yesterday, said: “It has been absolutely fantastic.
I didn’t expect such a strong response. The planning department even said our consultation document was better than theirs.
“People who have been responding have been from all ages, including a lot of younger people who have children.
“Everyone who filled in a form was against the idea.
"Only two or three people said they were aware of the consultation and one of those was because they read a letter we had put through their door.
There have been huge problems with communication.”
It comes as residents in Dunton claim they did not know about the council's consultation.
They fear the identity of their village will be lost for ever if plans to put 2,300 homes on land between Laindon and the Brentwood border go ahead.
Campaigner Danny Lovey, of the Basildon Green Action Group, said: “It’s a mega development.
“The bottom line is it will wipe out Dunton village as we know it.
“I went round there last week and spoke to people and no one knew about it. But the people of Dunton are crying foul play.”
The council’s planning boss, Richard Moore, said the consultation had been promoted on the radio, in articles, adverts, on the council website, posters at train stations and on buses. and advertising vans in Basildon town centre.
He added: “We have had a really good response from local people and businesses who either came along to the eight consultation roadshows which were held throughout January and February or who have submitted comment forms and letters into the council.
“Some residents of the Dunton area have been along to the roadshows and made themselves known to officers in attendance, therefore it is clear the message of the plan's existence and its proposals for the Dunton area have reached some residents living in the area.”
THE campaign against green belt development has led to the storming of a parish council meeting, police intervention, calls for resignations, a referendum and a community consultation.
Basildon Council’s public consultation to its local plan, which includes plans for 12,500 homes and employment land across the borough, had to be pushed back by two weeks after the backlash.
Police were called to Billericay’s Town Council meeting on Thursday, March 6, after 280 residents turned out to say they had no idea Basildon Council was planning thousands of homes and employment land across the borough.
The meeting, which was scheduled so parish councillors could sign off their own response to the local plan, had to be cancelled and Basildon Council decided to push back the consultation deadline to yesterday. Billericay residents used the extra time to carry out their own simplified consultation.
Many residents still fear others have not had a chance to take part, but Basildon Council denies that.
Planning boss Richard Moore said: “I was advised by some people living in the borough’s more rural parts that they did not receive a letter whichmyself and the leader of the council sent out in January.
“In light of this concern, I have already extended the consultation. As we have already extended the consultation period I do not think it appropriate to extend it further.”