A HUGE development masterplan has been launched to create 200 new houses, business units and holiday homes on land around an exclusive spa.

Owners of the Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, in Thorpe, have unveiled the scheme.

It would see large areas of the rural green space in Thorpe developed to support the spa business.

But it has sparked fury from residents who fear losing the character and history of their village.

The plan includes building 200 new homes, as well as business units, 50 holiday apartments and 92 assisted living care properties, as well as a new car park across the road from Thorpe railway station.

Co-owners of the Lifehouse Spa, Peter Murphy and Donald Emslie, have run the business over the last four years.

They say it has become a success, but needs major investment to take it to the next level and secure its future – and developing the land is the best way to raise the necessary funds.

Co-owner and chief executive Peter Murphy said: “Our exciting masterplan will not only help deliver Tendring Council’s housing and regeneration ambitions, but also considers carefully what will work in our unique setting and ensures the Lifehouse business can maintain that setting in the longer term.”

But it has already seen a backlash from residents and councillors who have vowed to fight the plans.

Parish council chairman Dan Land has issued a strong response to the plans on behalf of the council.

He said: “We will not sit back and watch the character and beauty of our village be eroded away from this absurd proposal.”

The Lifehouse Spa was opened in 2010 with a whopping £30million investment.

Previous owners went into administration, before the current owners took over.

It employs 188 people and, if the development plans are approved, it is expected to create about 200 extra jobs.

The current spa and hotel has about 48,000 visitors every year and brings an estimated £4.2million into the local economy each year.