A CONTROVERSIAL proposal for 280 homes, offices and a new school on farmland in Weeley has been refused by planners.

Residents claimed the plans for the 44-acre site, south of Thorpe Road, would have “dramatically” changed the feel of their village.

The blueprints included a new primary school, 56-place early years nursery, 3,000sq metres of offices and public open space.

The proposals also include a new footbridge over the railway.

Tendring Council’s planning committee heard the site was already allocated for such a mixed-use development in the emerging Local Plan and the plans had been recommended for approval by council officers, subject to a legal agreement being signed.

But both Weeley and Thorpe parish councils objected to the proposal and members of the planning committee felt the emerging Local Plan policy, which allocates the site for mixed use, should progress further before the site is given planning permission.

They said there are outstanding objections to the site’s allocation for development and people should have the opportunity for these to be considered by the Local Plan inspector.

The committee also felt the application represented “disproportionate scale of growth in relation to the size and character of Weeley”.

Ward councillor Jeff Bray said there are two possible sites in Weeley for development and that residents had previously been assured that the independent Local Plan inspector would make the decision as to which was most appropriate.

He added that the site south of Thorpe Road was the “least favoured” of the two by villagers.

Mr Bray said: “There have been substantial objections by local people to this particular site.

“It is only right that the Local Plan inspector could make a judgement on their objections prior to any possible approval of this application.

“Anything else would be undemocratic.”

A planning statement by the developer said the development would have ensured “the delivery of much needed housing, including affordable housing, job opportunities and school places”.