PROTESTORS battling proposals for a huge house-building programme to help fund the restoration of St Osyth Priory claims support for their campaign is mounting.

The SOS - Save Our St Osyth - campaign says it had to turn people away from its latest meeting because the 270-capacity village hall wasn't big enough.

The owners of the priory want special permission to build 190 houses in the protected priory grounds.

But objectors claim that will wreck the village and ruin the environment.

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell and political opponent Ivan Henderson were both at Wednesday night's meeting.

SOS spokesman Jimmy Green said the turnout was "brilliant".

"It was so well attended that people couldn't find anywhere to park," he said.

"The hall was full - it was absolutely fantastic."

He claimed the village was united "100 per cent" against the house-building proposals.

"I came away from there feeling buoyant. I feel we've got a good chance of stopping this proposal."

The Sargeant family, which owns the priory, want the go-ahead to build behind Mill Street to generate millions of pounds to restore the crumbling priory to its former glory.

But protesters say it is too high a price to pay and the additional housing would have a devastating impact on St Osyth.

Mr Green, whose house overlooks the proposed site, said: "We call that piece of land our Garden of Eden.

"It's full of wildlife and there are beautiful views to Brightlingsea. Anybody that would think of destroying that for ever really can't be thinking straight."