TOWN councillors have voted unanimously to look into a scheme which could help protect Halstead against future mass housing development.

Halstead Town Council this week agreed to take the first steps in drawing up a Neighbourhood Plan.

It would give the town more control over what housing could be built in Halstead in the future.

Town mayor Andrew Munday said: “It’s been suggested that Halstead consider making and developing a plan to protect the town against development.

“A Neighbourhood Plan is a task not to be taken lightly. It does involve expense and time and it’s a lot of work for council staff.

“The general consensus is that we would like to do this, but we would need to first understand the information.”

Councillors used the example of Hatfield Peverel Parish Council’s neighbourhood plan being approved by Braintree Council.

Councillor Jackie Pell said: “So much work has been done on Hatfield Peverel. If you look at it, it will give you an idea of the amount of work involved.

“We must be aware of all the facts before we embark upon something we can or can’t do or even afford to do.”

It was suggested the town clerk would speak to Hatfield Peverel Town Council to research any financial costs or pitfalls they encountered when creating their plan. An idea was also suggested to involve members of the community at a later stage to form a working group.

Councillor Malcolm Fincken said the scheme could protect the town from unwanted future developments.

He said: “The district council are keen to support towns and parishes who want to create their own neighbourhood plan and therefore that would be some support.

“It would help us to work closely with district council officers in getting them to see what our feelings are on various possible developments in and around the town.

“I think we should be optimistic and creative in the way we go about it.”