CAMPAIGNERS say "heads must roll" over the failed garden community proposals for north Essex.

The Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (Cause) has been an outspoken critic of the hugely unpopular plans to build 43,000 homes at three garden towns - collectively run by North Essex Garden Communities Limited.

Cause has welcomed Roger Clews' finding on the Local Plan, but said the councils had many questions to answer over their handling of the situation.

Rosie Pearson, secretary of the group, said: "Quite rightly, the planning inspector has found the new towns vanity project unsound.

"The project has been imposed on unwilling residents by a very small group of councillors and officers.

"More than £8 million pounds of tax-payer funds been poured down the drain, and never-ending delays have caused uncontrolled speculative development. Heads must roll and NEGC Ltd should be wound up immediately."

Ms Pearson said residents would still be disappointed the east of Colchester garden community remains on the table.

She added: "The 24,000-home West Tey and 10,000 West of Braintree have been banished for good. This is truly fantastic news for all those residents in the 4,600-acre areas of search, who have lived under the shadow of the car-dependent urban sprawl for so long. "Unfortunately, the promoters of the east Colchester new town have been given some room for manoeuvre, but further consultation and probably a hearing would be needed.

"Whatever happens next, it is imperative our councils start to listen to their communities and work with them. We must plan for the real need in north Essex - No more vanity projects."

A Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “The Government is working hand-in-hand with local communities to deliver much-needed new homes across the country.

“We remain committed to supporting new garden communities and helping these schemes to get off the ground.”