EXPERTS say a developer must carry out a series of tests to prove its plans to build 40 new homes in Halstead will not harm a potentially sensitive archaeological area.

Essex County Council’s historic environment officer Teresa O’Connor has told Go Homes it must produce an archaeological assessment survey as part of its planning application to build on land at Crowbridge Farm, off Chapel Hill.

The developer wants planning permission for 40 homes on the site after an initial application for 70 houses was refused by Braintree Council last year.

Go Homes has reduced the number of proposed homes to address concerns about the impact the new estate would have on nearby Grade II listed buildings.

But the developer has now been told to provide further proof it will not be compromising the archaeological history of the site and has been asked to carry out investigations to see of there are any historical remains of interest buried under the ground.

In her response to the plans, environment officer Teresa O’Connor said: “The proposed development lies within a historic environment characterisation zone identified as having high potential for the survival of both archaeological and palaeoenvironmental remains.

“Within the zone there is a scatter of Roman finds at Brook Street, probably from a farmstead associated with a crossing of the river. The area also includes the remains of several production sites relating to the important medieval Hedingham pottery industry.

“There are extensive crop-mark complexes relating to medieval or post-medieval water management in the valley floor.”

Go Homes will be asked to report its findings to the council’s planning officers, who will play a key role in deciding the plans.

Last week, campaign group Hands off Chapel Hill said it would once again oppose the latest plans put forward for Crowbridge Farm.

A total of five objection letters have already been submitted to the council, raising concerns about the added pressure new homes would have on Halstead’s infrastructure.

One objector said: “This is simply a cut-down version of a previous application that went through several appeals before rejection.

“This current application does nothing to address the reasons the previous offering was rejected.

“The proposed development remains on green field agricultural land, has dangerous traffic implications, does not address the local infrastructure problems, and does not form part of the Braintree Local Plan.

“It remains a badly designed and inappropriate proposal.”