THREE green belt sites in Castle Point could be developed within the next five years, the Echo can reveal.

A letter leaked to the Echo shows Castle Point Council’s chief executive, David Marchant, wrote to County Hall identifying the three pieces of land.

The sites were highlighted so the county council could predict the number of future school places in the area, as part of the consultation to close the Deanes School, Thundersley.

The letter, written by county council leader David Finch, states that, based on information provided by the council’s senior planning policy officer, these sites have been included in its forecasts “as sites that are expected to start in the next five years in the Deanes School Priority Admissions Area”.

Sites that could be developed:

- Up to 69 acres of land east of Rayleigh Road and north of Daws Heath Road, Thundersley

- Up to five acres of land at Oak Tree Farm, off Central Avenue and Sherwood Crescent, Hadleigh 

- Six acres of land at Solby Wood Farm, off Daws Heath Road, Daws Heath Details of exactly how many homes are proposed are not known.

However, in the council's Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, the land east of Rayleigh Road could take up to 450 homes and Oak Tree Farm could take 89.

The Echo revealed last week meetings had taken place between the owner of Solby Wood Farm and Castle Point Council regarding a pre-application for up to 160 homes.

Ian Harding, 49, of Elmhurst Avenue, Benfleet, a member of the Save Jotmans Farm action group, said: “It is absolutely

“David Marchant (the council chief executive) attended a meeting with us and all the other councillors, in which we
were given the impression they would do everything they could to protect green belt, and yet straight away here they are
offering these sites up for development. I am amazed.

“They seem to be telling residents one thing and doing another thing behind our backs.”

The news follows the Echo’s revelation of plans for up to 2,995 homes to be built on the mainland in the next 15 years.

It has also come to light just days after councillors rejected plans for 265 homes on the Jotmans Farm green belt site in Benfleet, claiming they wanted to protect the borough’s green spaces.

The letter was written by Mr Finch after the Echo published a letter from Castle Point Council leader, Pam Challis, which claimed County Hall had ignored the council’s housing figures when predicting the number of future school places needed.

A spokeswoman from Castle Point Council said: “Castle Point Council is not prepared to comment on correspondence with Essex County Council.”