AN influential campaign group has decided to wind down its operations after plans for 34,000 homes in two new towns were thrown out by planning bosses.

The Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (Cause) was the driving force behind opposition to the West Tey garden community, which could have totalled 24,000 homes.

With Planning Inspector Roger Clews ruling Colchester, Tendring, Braintree and Essex councils plans for West Tey, and another new town west of Braintree, were "unsound", the group has decided to wind down its activities.

But the group insists it remains "ready to regroup" if necessary.

A spokesman for the group said: "This is a point at which Cause can sensibly say 'job done'.

"Given the shortcomings of the West Tey and West of Braintree proposals and the obstacles identified by the inspector, it is inconceivable anyone will want to waste more ratepayers’ and taxpayers’ money in trying to mend these broken plans.

"But Cause won't disappear. The company, its people and its professional team will be ready to re-group if the councils try to act against the inspector’s advice.

"Individual members of Cause will be working on issues with other lobby groups, and we particularly wish the people of east Colchester and Wivenhoe well in dealing with the east of Colchester new town which the Inspector felt had some merit."

The group has thanked its thousands of supporters, who have helped with years of campaigning, dedicating both time and money to the cause.

The spokesman added: "Cause wants to give big thanks to everyone who made this campaign successful. To our sponsors who have enabled us to employ professional experts and build our knowledge and credibility.

"To activists who have distributed thousands of leaflets, surveys and signs, and to all those Cause members who did the massive amount of work required for the public examinations.

"We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Rosie Pearson, who has been tireless in developing her knowledge of garden communities, planning matters, relevant legislation, infrastructure, rapid transport systems, air quality, habitat regulations – even sewage services - and more and applying that knowledge to the benefit of the campaign."

He added: "When social distancing is eased, we may just have a party."

The Cause Facebook page is being suspended and rebranded as West Tey Watch, however the website and Twitter will remain open for the time being.