BUILDING work has started on the first show homes at the controversial Gloucester Park housing development in Basildon.

Campaigners have been fighting council plans to build houses on the site of the former swimming pool, which closed in April this year.

The first two show homes and sales office are now being built and demolition of the swimming pool has been completed.

These houses are the first phase of the development of 144 town houses, major park improvements, a lake, car park and netball court site.

Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, said: “I am delighted this work has started. The scheme will help to provide much-needed new homes for the borough on the site of the old swimming pool, car park and netball courts and will see significant investments made back into the south side of the park.

“This scheme should not be seen in isolation, as it will help to fund future phases of the exciting town centre regeneration that will see better shops, public spaces, new jobs and opportunities for local people, and major improvements made to the town centre.”

Campaigners have held several protests and called special meetings with the Tory council to try to fight the plans.

The swimming pool site application also includes plans for a boulevard to the town centre and a new play area.

Objectors to the scheme say it will lead to a loss of open space, loss of trees and wildlife and put a strain on education and health services.