A BITTER and long-running planning battle is due to come before councillors yet again next week.

For more than three years, Cosy Developments has been trying to get planning permission to build homes on the former Windsor School site.

Previous applications were turned down, as it would lead to a loss of open space, but the developer has now promised to give some land to Tendring Council to build a play area at the Cann Hall estate, if it gets approval - together with £100,000 cash - up £40,000 on the previous offer.

However, hundreds of local residents have signed a petition against the plan to build 24 homes, and have even offered to buy the land to turn it into a nature reserve.

At the latest meeting, council officers are once more recommending the plan for approval, saying the new play area outweighs the loss of this local space and that other difficulties about the application can be overcome.

However, the matter is further complicated because access to the site is through Abbigail Gardens - a development of nine bungalows by the same company which is currently under investigation by enforcement officers.

The council says the development is different to the one they gave permission for - but it says it will not now make a ruling on this until October - after the meeting next week.

Essex County Council highways has now also come out against the plan, saying the access does not meet road safety guidelines, and councillor Robert Bucke has claimed the officers' recommendation for approval is not a properly balanced one.

The development control committee meeting is scheduled for 7.30pm on Tuesday.

At the meeting, councillors will also vote on the plan to build a play area on agricultural land near the Cann Hall Estate.

Officers say councillors should view the two applications completely independently, and this bid is acceptable in its own right.

They say it would be an increase in open public space and represent a good financial outcome for the council.

Residents have expressed concerns about the bid, including an increase in traffic and the new park becoming a hot-bed of antisocial behaviour.

However, officers state "that can always be a fear for a play space, but if accepted there would never be any play spaces provided."