KNOCKING down a historic village house to make a community hub has been slammed by planners who say it would "significantly harm" the conservation area.

Tendring Council's planning department has thrown out the controversial plans for Red House in Farm Road, Great Oakley, which had aimed to replace the empty house with affordable flats and a community cafe/restaurant.

Owners, the Great Oakley Community Hub, said the building was in such a poor condition it would be too expensive to repair for the project.

But a report by planners said: "The Great Oakley Conservation Area Appraisal identifies the Red House as pivotal due to its sensitive corner plot. The form, age, materials and location of the building therefore means it forms a key facade facing onto the High Street and Farm Road.

"The demolition is considered to cause significant harm.

"The detailed design of the replacement is not considered to preserve or enhance the special character of this section of the conservation area."

Planners went on to criticise the lack of information about the heritage of the building and evidence of it's poor condition.

The design was also said not to match the village centre and "overly urban".

The idea was to rebuild Red House with an additional extension to the side so it would join on to the pub, like it did until the 1940s.

It would have had a restaurant serving hot lunches for the elderly as well as breakfasts and afternoon teas, and three flats upstairs rented to people already in or from the village.

An underpass underneath would have led to one of two car parks.

Mark Godfrey, chairman of the community group, said: “It's very disappointing, there was no dialogue and they have never been to see the building.

"We have to consider our options now - either to appeal, resubmit an altered application or sell the building.”