Controversial plans to destroy a section of playing field and build a medical centre and retirement complex in its place are being shown to the public.

In November 2016 an application submitted by Essex County Council and NHS Midlands & East was given outline planning permission by Epping Forest District Council, which also played a part in putting forward the proposals.

On a sports pitch jointly owned by the district and county council stood the disused Ninefield Community Centre, which the approved application gave permission to demolish.

In its place would be built a health centre, a mini-football pitch, 60 independent living apartments with facilities for carers and a swimming pool.

In the two and a half years since the approval more details plans to build a leisure centre on the site were green-lit and acted upon, with the £10m centre opening in November last year.

To build the housing portion of the outline plans as well, more detailed proposals must now be submitted to the district council before work can begin.

In a bid to get this process going a public exhibition into the more in-depth plans takes place at 7pm on March 4 at Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre.

While the outline proposals were approved in 2016 with numerous conditions including a 40 per cent affordable housing requirement and a £340,000 contribution from the developers to pay for playing pitches, public opposition to the scheme was strong.

More than 600 people signed a petition opposing the loss of three quarters of the field, claiming it would deprive a town of its access to nature.

At a November 2016 council meeting objector Stephen Kipps said: “People use it to teach their children to ride bikes, the children play cricket, football.

“People use model aircraft there.

“Women feel safe running around it because it’s flanked by houses and even the local children’s centre use it for a mother and pram exercise area.

“People walk their dogs, and yes there are a small minority of poor dog owners but on the whole it’s responsible people who use this area.

“We think that to lose it would be just terrible.

“It’s the village green of Ninefields, which is quite a populated area and this is like an oasis to us.”

While the number of objection letters from members of the public far outweighed those in support, the parish council, most district councillors and Sport England were in support.

Ward councillor David Dorrell told the meeting: “I think the scheme has a great deal of merit in parts.

“I think there are also significant problems with it.

“I believe that the area is in desperate need of regeneration.

“The community centre is derelict, there are problems with antisocial behaviour around the area as a result and it really does need an overhaul and I don’t think anybody would object to either the leisure centre or the medical centre if that was as far as it went.”

If approved the independent living scheme will feature one and two bedroom apartments for people over 55 years old, with communal facilities such as resident’s lounges, hobbies rooms, treatment rooms and hairdressing facilities

The development will also see an extension of current medical services into a health centre – a move welcomed by the area's current GP, Ian Perry.

Dr Perry said: “We can’t afford to be a sick nation – we need a space where people can live healthy lives.

"The surgery’s got character - as an estate agent might put it - but I need another reception. I want to attract more staff.

"I need to get GP training. I want to have new blood here. There’s so much to do."