CONTROVERSIAL plans for a housing development have been approved.

Work has already began at the Hullbridge development consisting of 500 homes with the first residents expected to move in to their new homes in spring 2020.

The development has been fought against by residents for more than five years.

One of the concerns around the development is the loss of village status due to the expected “explosion” in population and traffic.

Brian Carleton, chair of Hullbridge Residents Association, who has lived in the town for 65 years, says members of the association have been persistently ignored by Rochford District Council.

He said: “We have been dealing with this for over seven years. There will be a population explosion and we will lose village status and it will become a town.

“The plans were originally for no more than 232 two-storey homes, now it’s 500 three-storey homes.

“Congestion will be made worse during the construction of the second roundabout, about a mile away from the junction of Hullbridge Road and Rawreth Lane, due to begin in April.

“The developers will have to use traffic lights to control the flow of the ensuing traffic

“The Hullbridge Residents Association warned Rochford District Council many times that without a scheme to improve the local roads network - widening Watery Lane - the village will become progressively frustrated at the lack of council consultation or consideration for the community.

“Residents are most concerned that the developers will use these roads for ingress’egress to the site.”

The development on Lower Road, in Hullbridge, run by Wilson Homes and Barrat, is said to deliver 175 affordable homes, a footpath and cycle links to the area.

Mark Cotes, managing director at Barratt and David Wilson Eastern Counties, said: “The approval represents the culmination of significant engagement with a wide range of stakeholders which has helped inform and evolve the proposal.

“I am delighted the committee considered the proposal was of a high quality design and we look forward to delivering our award winning range of homes for Hullbridge.”

Rochford Councillor Ian Ward, said: “Barratt and David Wilson Homes’ extremely positive engagement throughout this process demonstrates that it is possible to achieve so much when all the participants are prepared to understand each other’s position.”