Housing on an industrial estate is not suitable, say councillors.
Panther Shop Investments Ltd applied for outline planning permission to demolish industrial units near The Roothings, Heybridge, to make way for 44 houses.
The company's agent, Designed Images, said the units “are in an extremely poor state of repair” and only two are currently occupied.
But Maldon District Council's central area planning committee refused permission for the development.
They agreed with the opinions of planning officers that there was not enough information to justify losing the employment site, the new residents would be subjected to unacceptable noise levels as the site is within an industrial area and there is a flooding risk.
Officers also said there was insufficient information about traffic, road access and road safety.