ANGRY residents are launching a campaign to stop houses being built on the site of a much-loved play area and community centre.

Basildon Council’s ruling Tory group plans to tear down a popular children’s playground, a community centre and neighbouring playing fields, at Pound Lane Recreation Ground, off Pound Lane, Laindon.

The council wants to sell the land to property developers, to help pay for the £38million sporting village in Gloucester Park, Basildon.

Residents say the playground, where there are swings, a slide and climbing frame, is in good condition and extremely popular with families, while the playing fields and community centre should be saved for generations to come.

They are launching a petition opposing plans to build up to 23 homes and a new access road on the site.

Campaign leader Terry Adam, 73, of Elverston Close, said: “This is the only play area we’ve got around here, and it’s always really well used.

“We definitely don’t want these houses.”

Simon Daniels, 36, of Merry-lands, Laindon, often visits the playground with his daughter Evie, two, and one-year-old son Ethan. He said: “People like me bring their children here to play on the swings and slide, and older children love playing football on the grass.

“It would be a big loss for the local community if it all goes.

“It’s really good to have playing fields on our doorstep, otherwise we’d have to get in our cars and drive whenever we want to take our children out.”

Pat Rackley, Labour councillor for St Martins, backed the campaign.

She said: “It’s a lovely play area and a good size hall, and you would also lose a lot of trees as well as the playing fields.”

The council is selling-off playing fields, playgrounds and community centres across the district to help pay for the sporting village. Residents from Kent View Road, Vange, have also collected 1,000 signatures for a petition in a protest against plans to sell-off playing fields near their homes to property developers.

Council leader Tony Ball said: “We are only in the early stages of deciding what will be done with this site, but there would be some grassland left for recreation after the homes have been built.

“Residents will be involved in the planning consultation over this application.”