CONTROVERSIAL plans to build retirement homes at a former animal rescue park have been refused by planners.

Developer McCarthy and Stone submitted plans for 42 apartments and ten bungalows to be built at Mistley Place Park, in New Road, Mistley.

Resident were left outraged by the plans, which they claimed would erode a “precious” green space and unspoiled river views.

Mistley Parish Council also strongly objected to the plans, which it said would harm the village’s conservation area, the historic Mistley Towers and the protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as designated green gap separating Mistley from Manningtree.

Tendring Council also received 223 letters of objection.

The application, which was outside the settlement boundary, has now been rejected by planning officers.

A report said the “major” development would cause harm to the significance of the conservation area and the significance of the Grade II church of St Mary and St Michael.

It said: “It is considered that development in this location would result in a significant diminishment in the quality of the landscape and a degradation of the semi-rural character of the area.

“The development would also result in an encroachment and urbanisation of the important green gap.

“The greatest impact will be the permanent change to the character of the Mistley Place Park and the erosion of the strategic green gap in which the development is proposed.”

Charlotte Howell, chairman of Mistley Parish Council, welcomed the decision.

“The parish council has always been very clear that the proposal was inappropriate for the location,” she said.

“We would like to see Mistley Place Park remain as a tranquil, open space as it has always been.

“It is next to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and close to a number of listed buildings.

“We feel Mistley has already borne more than its fair share of development in the area with all our fields gobbled up by development - and the infrastructure in the village cannot support any more.

“More than 90 per cent of the village was against the development.”

Ward councillor Alan Coley added: "We still wish to see an environmentally sustainable plan for Mistley Place Park, which includes public access, but not by building more dwellings on the site."

McCarthy and Stone had not responded at the time of going to press.