RESIDENTS have reacted angrily to approval for 51 new homes on a Billericay green belt site.

The Billericay School, in School Road, won a planning appeal for outline permission to build the homes on the green belt site near the school, in Noak Hill Road.

The school said the sale of the land would pay for a multi-million expansion, including music, arts and drama buildings, and a new sports centre.

But since winning the appeal against Basildon Council, residents, a local environmental group and councillors have claimed it will damage wildlife, burden traffic and put more green belt land at risk.

Peter Tucker, a spokesman for environmental group SOS Billericay, said: “The whole thing is a disaster for the people of Billericay. Extra traffic from builders and eventually new residents’ cars is going to cause a real safety issue as lots of parents park nearby to pick up their children and congest the road.

“There is also wildlife there, including a badger sett and possibly bats, which will be under threat.”

Councillor Kevin Blake, ward member for Billericay East, said the council was weighing up whether to launch an appeal. He said: “This is the tip of the iceberg and I think every bit of green belt in the district is under threat.

“If a developer promises some community asset, like a sports facility, it will have a chance of building homes on green belt.”

Resident Carol Heywood, of Longrise, said: “It’s just sad the wildlife we enjoy could all vanish from there now and it will just be homes. Once the homes are built it will simply be too late to recover what we had.”

But Sue Hammond, headteacher of the Billericay School, said the inspector had agreed all the concerns were answered in the planning proposal.

She said: “The case was won by demonstrating very special circumstances exist to allow development in the green belt. Therefore, no precedent is being set.”

“Wildlife will be protected by the inclusion of an ecology corridor. Independent traffic experts and Essex Highways concluded this development will not significantly increase congestion.”