CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a housing estate on a wildlife haven have been thrown out.

Almost 200 residents, who attended the latest Castle Point Council planning meeting, roared with approval as Thundersley Plotlands, off Kiln Road, was saved from the diggers.

Formerly a green belt site, campaigners have been fighting to protect it since the 1980s.

In total, 175 residents wrote letters of objections and former MP Bob Spink presented a petition of 125 signatures calling for councillors to reject the plans.

The 13-acre site, equivalent to four football pitches, is a designated local wildlife site and home to badgers, bats, dormice and reptiles, including the common lizard and the slow worm.

Residents were thrilled by the unanimous decision, taken by councillors on the development control committee, not to allow the 150 homes to built.

Graham Hurrell, 50, of Hart Road, Thundersley, said: “This was a great victory for people power. So many people felt strongly about this and we couldn’t be ignored. This beautiful site is the heart of Thundersley.”

Brian Dyer, 64, also of Wensley Road, Thundersley, added: “Now it’s been saved, I think they should make it into a permanent woodland for future generations.”

Barry Brazier, of Warren Chase, Thundersley, added: “It should never be built on.”

Jane Shepherd, 64, of Wensley Road, Thundersley, said: “It’s great news. We don’t want more and more flats going up and the roads here couldn’t have coped with the extra traffic.”

Simon Shepherd, 46, of the Chase, Thundersley, added: “It would have been a massive overdevelopment of the site and we don’t have the infrastructure to cope.”

Barratt Homes wanted to build 56 four-bedroom houses, 61 three-bedroom houses and 33 two-bedroom apartments on the land.

The majority of the homes would have been sold on the open market, but 53 were to be allocated as affordable housing.

Essex Wildlife Trust opposed the application.

Barratt Homes spokesman Peter Briggs told councillors before the decision was made, the planning application made every possible effort not to interfere with wildlife on the site, by retaining most of the trees and hedgerow.

He said: “The site has historically been allocated in the council’s local plan as a site for housing. The development would have benefits for the area in terms of protecting wildlife, providing affordable housing, and much-needed family homes.”