WORRIED residents have hit out at claims that Rochford’s green belt will be protected by the council.

At an extraordinary council meeting, Rochford councillor responsible for planning, Keith Hudson, said the council is hoping to use land that has already been built on for new homes, rather than building on green belt.

The council has allocated 3,800 new homes to be built before 2031 in Hockley, Rayleigh, Hullbridge, Roch-ford, Hawkwell, Ashingdon, Great Wakering and Canewdon.

The council will build an average of 190 homes a year, but if “spoilt land” – such as the old Eon call centre in Rayleigh – becomes available, the houses could be built there.

However, campaign groups remain concerned about the number of houses earmarked for green belt land and say the council has ignored previously built-on land put forward as alternatives.

Brian Guyett, chairman of Hockley Residents Assoc-iation, said: “No less than 67 per cent of the proposed 3,800 additional houses in the district will come from green belt.

“Also, the two new industrial sites, at Southend Airport and west Rayleigh, will be on green belt. Rochford Council has simply ignored brownfield sites put forward.

“It is highly inappropriate for the council to claim it is safeguarding the green belt.”

Lyn Hopkins, chairman of Rawreth Parish Council, said: “Rochford Council is not safeguarding the green belt. It is only delaying the start of development so that it looks that way.

“It intends to keep new homes at the orginal sites, despite hundreds of objections. All it has done is put the dates back.

“We put forward a brownfield site at Bedloes Corner, which could have taken 300 houses. The council said it was unsustainable because there weren’t services nearby and access wasn’t good.”

Keith Hudson said the council has not ignored any sites put forward and urged anyone with brownfield sites that would be suitable for housing to put them forward.

The plans are now open to public consultation until November 30.