FOR a district that prides itself on being 80 per cent green belt, Rochford has a big problem on its hands.

By 2021, more than 2,200 new homes need to be built in the district as part of Government housebuilding quotas in the South East.

So where are they built?

Some say new homes should be built near existing villages like Great Wakering, Rochford, Hockley and Hullbridge.

Others claim that would put huge pressure on schools, roads and medical facilities.

Could a new town be the answer? Hawkwell Parish Council believes it is. It suggests a new town in the west of Rayleigh would be the best policy to pursue.

Originally, Rochford District Council officers had said Rayleigh should take the bulk of the new homes, but this was changed after angry opposition.

Revised plans worked out at a private meeting of councillors cut this number by half, but meant an increase in the allocation for villages across the district, particularly Hawkwell and Hullbridge.

Hawkwell Parish Council vice chairman Vic Leach said: "There is strong opposition to any major green belt development within the parish from many residents.

"Our preferred option for all housing requirements is to create a single new community within the district, thus allowing services and infrastructure to be properly and viably provided.

"This new community would be ideally situated in the west or north west of the district to allow best access to public transport, cycleways and dual carriageways."

Mr Leach said if this option was not acceptable, development should be shared equally throughout the area, based on the size of parishes and their populations."

He added: "We expect any new development within the parish boundaries to have a minimum impact on the green belt, not increase the village footprint and that the district council will use its compulsory purchase powers to achieve this.

"Before any development is started the infrastructure should be improved, dealing with issues such as traffic, health and schools"

He added there should be a mixture of housing developments, with flats only if absolutely necessary of no more than three storeys high.

Mr Leach added: "We also expect Rochford District Council to create a direct and positive link between accommodation and employment."

Myra Weir, Hawkwell Parish Council planning committee chairman, said: "We held a couple of public meetings and it was quite clear the policy which we have adopted was what the people of the village wanted."

Former Rayleigh Town Council chairman Tony Humphries said: "My own view is development should be spread fairly across the whole of the district.

"I would never agree to 1,800 homes being built in Rayleigh, and I still cannot understand exactly where this idea came from in the first place. Over the years, Rayleigh has taken more than enough of the development in the district. I could never accept 1,800 homes even with a promise of improved infrastructure."