ANGRY campaigners say an historic area of woodland could be “destroyed” if fresh plans to build 73 homes are given the go-ahead.

Halstead 21st Century says the latest proposals for land east of Halstead High Street show a “disregard” for its own alternative vision to create a heritage park on the site.

The group, which was set up in 2013 to protect the land’s heritage, had hoped to work with a developer looking to build on the site and find a way to preserve some of the land’s history.

But those hopes have now been dashed after Parkland Developments submitted plans to build 32 houses and 41 apartments on the site instead.

Halstead 21st Century says the snub shows a lack of respect and suggests it will hinder those wanting the town to prosper.

A spokesman said: “The application has been pushed forward without regard to our plans for a Heritage Park.

“Our attempts to meet the developer in order to engage in a constructive dialogue have been rejected and we are sure that this is contrary to good planning practice which encourages community engagement.

“If this scheme is approved it will destroy a green lung in the centre of the town – eight protected trees would be felled – and many valuable historic assets, and it completely ignores an amazing opportunity for our town.

“Our group has plans to make the most of these assets by creating an exciting, community resource for everyone living in or visiting Halstead.

“The proposal disregards national planning guidance and is a rebuff to those of us who wish to see Halstead prosper with the enhancement of the assets it already has.”

The architects behind the 73 home proposal, Ettwein Bridges, say they have based their plans on a previous heritage report produced in 2012.

An assessment was done on the site on behalf of a supermarket, believed to be Tesco, however its plans to build a store on the land were soon abandoned.

Braintree Council reached an agreement with five other landowners to sell off the land for development back in February.

In its planning statement, Ettwein Bridges says the future of heritage assets already on the site, such as 16 air raid shelters, will be decided once vehicle access has been decided. However, the firm says the setting and fabric of the assets will be “preserved”.

Halstead 21st Century says anyone wanting to discuss the latest plans for land east of High Street can visit the group’s stall at this Saturday’s Christmas Fair.