A CONCERNED resident has taken to the streets to raise awareness of a plan to build homes on a conservation area in Maldon.

The district council turned down proposals to build 28 homes on the Friary East grounds in Carmelite Way.

The Grade II listed building, owned by Essex County Council, was set to be converted and more construction would have been carried out in the grounds.

The plans were refused after objections from residents, Maldon Town Council and the Maldon Society.

The county council is now appealing in a bid to overturn the decision.

June Hodges, 84, of Wentworth Meadows, is concerned with environmental issues in the area and has been collecting signatures opposing the development.

The Chapter House day centre volunteer went door to door asking residents to join her cause, collecting more than 500 signatures.

Mrs Hodges said: “Everyone is horrified at these plans. The garden was the place for Maldon youth to gather.

“I can see the grounds from Chapter House and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw they were marking off the areas to be built on.

“The more I hear about what plans there are for the garden, the more I feel it needs to be given back to the Maldonians.

“There is no access to the garden for the public at the moment and there should be.

“It’s like Maldon’s very own secret garden – I just want everyone to enjoy it.

“It is so incredibly sad this is happening, and my heart goes out to the children of the town who won’t get to use this lovely space in the future.

“It’s absolutely unthinkable.”

Friary East was built in the early 19th century and was a private residence until it was bought by Essex County Council in 1946 and used for adult education services. The building was listed in 1971.

High Street business Point Graphics has copies of Mrs Hodges’ petition for people to sign.

The planning appeal will take place at the district council offices on Thursday, March 26 from 10am.