MAJOR plans to transform redundant farmland into a new housing estate looks set to be thrown out.

Stockplace Investments’ bid to build 135 homes at Shardlowes Farm, off Hedingham Road, Gosfield, has been recommended for refusal by planning officers ahead of a crucial meeting on Tuesday, February 19.

Councillors will make a final call on the application and have been advised to reject the plans because the development would be based in the countryside and would be “out of character” with the rest of the village.

Experts have also raised doubts about the impact the new homes would have on both the existing wildlife based at the site, and a nearby grade-II-listed barn.

Commenting on the application, Essex County Council’s historic building consultant Nicolas Page said: “At present I request that Braintree Council refuse this application due to the adverse impact this scheme would have upon the listed barn and its setting without appropriate safeguards in place for its preservation and enhancement.

“It is also likely that the proposed would have an adverse impact upon the Gosfield Conservation Area.”

Though it has not objected to the proposals, NHS England has raised concerns about the impact the new homes would have on the overstretched Elizabeth Courtauld surgery in Halstead, while education bosses say there is insufficient space at Gosfield Primary School to take on large numbers of new pupils.

If approved, up to 54 of the 135 homes would be allocated as affordable. However, the applicant has abandoned plans to refurbish the historic barn and turn it into offices.

Decontamination of the land would be required before any building work could begin due to a build up of dumped rubbish and scrapped vehicles left on the site.

The design and access statement entered by Stockplace Investments adds: “The proposed development will remove the existing brownfield commercial uses from the site. These presently cause harm to the locality and are alien to the countryside.

“The development has been designed with careful consideration to all the site characteristics. It will provide much needed housing to this part of Essex including a mix of affordable homes for the village.”