This controversial proposal was making the headlines in the Epping Forest Guardian five years ago this week.

A divisive plan to build 45 homes, a hall, sports pitch and a car park on green belt land has been finally refused.

Almost a year after a similar development was withdrawn by applicant Giovanni Abella following a public campaign against it, Epping Forest District Council refused him permission for the proposal for St Leonard’s Road, Nazeing.

Despite conditional support from Nazeing Parish Council and the promise of 18 “affordable” homes, Mr Abella’s plans once again provoked anger and dismay from local residents.

With packed public meetings and approximately 70 letters speaking against the proposals, concerns were repeatedly raised about the site’s location on a flood plain, possible negative impact on wildlife and the pressure that could be placed on local roads.

District councillors including Helen Kane voted against the development over fears that it would negatively impact on the green belt land.

She said: “We cannot build on fields, we have to make sure we first tackles areas where there are already buildings.”

She added: “We have to make some very serious decisions about how to tackle the housing problem but… every application has to be considered on its own merit.”

Mr Abella can now appeal the decision.