CAMPAIGNERS and councillors have opposed a fresh bid to build homes on an ancient meadow.

Halstead Town Council voted against the application to build nine homes on Sloe Cottage Meadow, to the east of Sloe Hill in Halstead on Monday.

The Hands Off Chapel Hill and Sloe Hill campaign group has said they are also stepping up opposition to the plans.

Sloe Cottage Meadow was once farmland belonging to the 1st Earl of Oxford and Norman knight Edward DeVere, in the 12th century. 

It was originally farmed by serfs and slaves, and campaigners claim there is still a prospect of finding archaeological remains.

But developers want to build on the site.

The first application was made to Braintree Council in December 2018.

The bid has since seen revisions made to the plans in January which has sparked fresh opposition.

Campaign co-ordinator Peter Caulfield said: “Housing on Sloe Hill is entirely linear and whereas four recently-built homes on the hill blend perfectly with their neighbours, this new estate will create an entirely unrelated enclave of housing, completely out of character with its surroundings.”

Objectors, including Halstead Town Council, are also said to be worried about the site’s entrance being near to a blind bend. 

Mr Caulfield added: “It’s a 60mph limit there but even at 30mph, it takes only three seconds to reach the entrance. 

“In our view, conflict between opposing traffic and vehicles using the entrance is inevitable.”

As The site is in the Gosfield and Greenstead Green parish, it is outside the Halstead development boundary, and until recently was a protected wildlife site. 

The campaign group says that while habitats may have diminished, protected species still use the land extensively for food.

Mr Caulfield said: “There is a licensed barn owl box adjacent to the meadow and a nesting pair has been spotted hunting the land.

“Sparrowhawks, red kites, badgers and other predators are frequent users because the land provides an abundance of prey. 

“We also have evidence of recent slow-worm activity there, although a recent reptile survey reported no sightings – not surprising as they hibernate from October to March.”

There are also concerns about light pollution posing a threat to nocturnal wildlife.

Braintree Council will make the final decision.