A FARMER has blasted Essex County Council for scuppering his plans to sell his land to housing developers after it was earmarked for a new road junction.

Developers Bridgeport and Taylor Wimpey had offered Peter Smith between £1.5million and £2million for his 15-acre Morbec Farm site off the A127 just west of the Fairglen Interchange, between Rayleigh, Wickford and Basildon.

But Bridgeport has got cold feet after the Echo revealed Essex County Council wanted to build a slip road connecting the A127 eastbound with the A130 northbound right through the land.

Mr Smith said: “I think it’s a joke.

I’m pleased I read it in the paper. I read the Echo every day.

“When you phone the council it doesn’t tell you anything.”

Mr Smith has been looking to sell the farm for a number of years and has suggested it be allocated for housing under Basildon’s local housing plan.

The businessman claims Taylor Wimpey may still be prepared to build an estate around any slip road.

County council planners have threatened to force Mr Smith to sell up for an estimated £1million to push through the tricky revamp of the Fairglen Interchange, which is used by more than 70,000 vehicles a day.

The cost was factored into their £15million estimate for the scheme, which forms part of a joint bid for Government cash with Southend Council that was submitted at the end of last month.

The new slip road would cut across the farmland north of A127, connecting its eastbound carriageway with the A130 and on to Chelmsford, Colchester and north Essex.

Drivers currently have to leave the A127, join the A1245 and A130, including traversing two roundabouts, passing two sets of signals, and travelling 1.5miles, equivalent to 3 minutes journey time – not including any time spent stationary at signals.

Mr Smith previously offered the land to house travellers being evicted from Dale Farm, but Basildon Council told him better opportunities for redevelopment were in the pipeline.

The businessman, who has a farmhouse, stables and a swimming pool on the land, which is separate from the Morbec Farm Industrial Estate next door, has also suggested it become a park- and-ride car park for Southend.

A county council spokesman said: “The strategy is at a very early stage.

There are a number of possible options for further investigation and consultation before any schemes are taken forward for implementation.”