TWO huge planning applications to build a total of 656 homes on green belt land have been turned down by the Government.

Following powerful campaigns by worried neighbours, the 330-home Christmas Tree Farm development for Hawkwell and plans for 326 homes at Coombes Farm near Rochford have been rejected by a planning inspector.

The two applications were turned down by Rochford District Council at the end of last year, but following appeals by the developers involved, they were looked at by Government inspectors at a planning inquiry hearing.

Developer David Wilson Homes wanted to build homes and a medical centre at Christmas Tree Farm, between Main Road, Rectory Road and Clements Hall Way, Hawkwell.

Neighbours said development of the 11-hectare site would ruin woodlands, fields and wildlife habitats, as well increase traffic on the area’s already busy roads.

Inspector John Head stated: “The appeal proposal would cause significant harm to the green belt and would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the locality by reason of its impact on Rectory Road.”

Colonnade, which was behind the Coombes Farm application, on farmland off Stambridge Road, Rocheway and Mill Lane, Rochford, had its application rejected for similar reasons.

Campaign group, Residents Against Coombes Farm Expansion, said it was concerned about infrastructure and the impact on congested roads.

It also said the farmland was much-loved by residents and an important wildlife habitat.

Inspector Christine Thorby concluded it was an “inappropriate development which would be harmful to the green belt”.

It would also cause “material harm to the character and appearance of the area from the loss of an open and rural landscape, which forms part of the distinct character of this part of Rochford”.

Campaigners and local councillors were relieved and overjoyed when they discovered the good news.

Tory James Cottis, councillor for Rochford ward, said: “It’s a good result.

“I think it’s a result for people power. Without the campaign by Residents Against Coombes Farm Expansion, it might have been a different result entirely.”

Hawkwell’s Independent councillor John Mason said: “I’m delighted for both Rochford and Hawkwell. However, we are still unhappy with the plans to build 175 homes in Hawkwell.”