PLANS to build 550 new homes on green belt land in Rayleigh have been delayed until 2015 at the earliest.

Land between London Road, Rawreth Lane and the old A130 was originally due to be developed as part of the East of England Plan between 2010 and 2015.

However, councillors voted to put back the scheme, as well as plans for 985 homes in west Rochford, west Hockley, south Hawkwell, Hullbridge, Canewdon and east Ashingdon.

Lib Dem councillors voiced their opposition to council proposals for building the homes in Rayleigh, which have been cut back from 1,600.

Chris Black, (Lib Dem Downhall and Rawreth) said: “The reduction in the amount of homes is welcome, but if these homes are built on land to the north of London Road, the population of Rawreth would double.

“I feel Rawreth Lane has been overdeveloped already. It will marr the area. I am disappointed and very unhappy. I will not be supporting the plans.”

Mr Black called for sites in the centre of Rawreth parish to be used, with the houses split up over a few sites.

Chairman of the development framework sub committee meeting, in which the plans were discussed, Keith Hudson said the plans could be amended.

He said: “This committee has visited all of the locations Mr Black is proposing and we have determined the best we could do with respect to Rayleigh was 550 new homes north of London Road.”

Informed sources have already suggested the delays on the more controversial schemes mean they may never happen.

If the Conservative Party wins the next general election, it is committed to scrapping the East of England Plan and the linked housing targets.

A six-week consultation period is expected to begin after the proposals have been put to the full council on September 9.

No decision will be made until after a public inquiry by a Government inspector.