DETERMINED campaigners have pledged thousands of pounds of their own money towards a lastditch attempt to stop 725 homes being built on a beauty spot.

Basildon’s Green Action Group spent two hours in the High Court convincing a judge to let them lodge a judicial review into the controversial Dry Street plans, but their request was thrown out.

However, the campaigners have now voted to appeal this decision.

It is their one last chance to put a stop to the controversial development, which was passed by Basildon Council last year despite 838 letters of objection and a 5,000-signature protest petition.

Money raised from the sale of the 725 houses on the Langdon Hills meadow, which is classified as a wildlife site, would be used to fund a new South Essex College site in the town centre.

Longwood Equestrian Centre will also be built on.

Action group secretary Miriam Heppell, 52, of Gaynesford, Laindon, said: “The council doesn’t understand the incredible sense of community involvement in this issue and how many people are prepared to support us in our fight to save a valuable wildlife area, Longwood Equestrian Centre and to prevent our local infrastructure being severely strained.

“This is our very last chance.

“We've gone this far, so it has got to be worth a go.”

If the action group wins its appeal, a full judicial reviewwill take place in the High Court.

Should a judge side with the campaigners then the Homes and Communities Agency, which owns the land, will have to come up with a whole new design – or the scheme could be thrown out altogether.

The lengthy legal battle comes at a cost.

The Green Action Group will have to fork out £10,000 preparing its case, and if it loses, will have to pay Basildon Council £5,000 for legal costs.

During an emergency meeting at Leigh Chapel South community centre, 96 residents pledged their financial support and unanimously voted to lodge the appeal.

Geoff Williams, leader of Basildon's Lib Dem party and ward councillor for Nethermayne, chaired the meeting.

He said: “There was an excellent turnout and it was important the community gave its backing to any further action, which they did wholeheartedly.

“It’s another step in the legal process, and I just hope this time it’s successful.”