A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to build hundreds of homes on land around an exclusive spa in Thorpe have been rejected by planners.

Owner Donald Emslie had submitted outline proposals for the rural land around the Lifehouse Spa and Hotel site, in Frinton Road, as part of a regeneration masterplan.

The project included plans for up to 200 residential units, an eight-acre park, landscaping and a new access road.

The plans differed from a previous proposal refused last year as it does not involve 92 supported and independent care units, 50 luxury holiday units, a health centre, business units and public car park.

Thorpe Parish Council strongly objected to the scheme and Tendring Council received about 440 letters of opposition.

Thorpe councillor Daniel Land claimed the plans would have damaged the historic Thorpe Hall parkland and vowed to fight future applications for homes at the site.

He said: “When they submitted the first plans last year, about 95 per cent of the village were against it – and showed their distaste for the application.

“We knew they would keep trying and we expected to see a second application come forward.

“We are ready for any further applications or appeals, which we expect will be in the pipeline.

“But our village has sent a clear message that we do not feel this is a suitable place to build homes, especially considering the historical importance of the site to the village.”

The existing spa and hotel are set in a mature landscape made up of a registered park and garden.

The site is outside the village development boundary, and Tendring Council said it wants to see new development concentrated on larger urban areas.

A spokesman for Tendring Council said the latest application for the Lifehouse Spa and Hotel site goes against its policies.

“The adverse impacts of the proposal, both on the undeveloped character of the locality and on the council’s ability to manage growth through a plan-led approach are not outweighed by the benefits,” said the spokesman.

“The development is of such a scale that it would significantly alter the character and appearance of the local landscape.

“It would also have an adverse impact of the adjoining Grade II listed park and garden, and the setting of the Thorpe conservation area.”

Highways bosses at Essex County Council also had reservations about the proposal and there were concerns it would cause additional queues and traffic congestion.

The Lifehouse’s owners previously said the spa – which opened in 2010 as part of a major £30million investment – has become a success, but needs major investment to secure its future.

They claim developing the land is the best way to raise the necessary funds.

But Mr Land said the village has no interest in subsidising a spa facility which needs cash to survive.