DEVELOPERS are attempting to push through plans to build a controversial plot of homes in Halstead.

Braintree Council and members of the public are at odds with Tesni Properties Ltd over the firm’s plans to build 71 homes on an unoccupied section of land near Mount Hill.

The opening of a public inquiry taking place at Howard Hall in Braintree and led by inspector Kenneth Stone was attended by representatives from both parties, as well as Greenbank residents who have fiercely opposed the application since it was submitted last year.

Representing Braintree Council, Dr Ashley Bowes highlighted the potential harm the scheme could have on the landscape’s character and suggested the new builds would also give rise to an unacceptable visual impact.

He also pointed out the damage likely to be caused to the nearby Grade II listed farmhouse, Grade II* listed Holy Trinity Church and historic conservation area.

He asked that the public benefits be considered alongside the harm likely to be caused to the three heritage sites.

He said: “The scheme will give rise to less than substantial harm but the harm, nonetheless, still needs to be weighed against the public benefits of the scheme.

“The law requires you to pay special regard to preserve the setting of a listed building and any features of special architecture and historic interest the building possesses.

“The collective harm will demonstratively outweigh the benefit of 71 market homes, and we will in due course invite you, sir, to dismiss the appeal.”

On behalf of Tesni Properties Ltd, John Barrett bolstered the developer’s argument with reference to the established housing that already surrounds the site, the public’s need for affordable homes and the previous developments that have slowly started to occupy Mount Hill for the past 30 or so years.

He said: “The relationship with properties within the site will be apparent but will not be unacceptable with respect to residential amenity and the relationship to the properties in Greenbank is considered to be satisfactory.

“The appeal site is not within the designated conservation area and nor does the proposal affect the fabric of any heritage asset.

“Glances at historic maps clearly show Halstead has been progressing out along Mount Hill since the mid-1970s.”

The public inquiry continues and is expected to last until Tuesday.