It's five years ago this week since campaigners were determined to hold Epping Forest Council to account over its housing development plans.

Disappointed campaigners say have branded a consultation on where to build new homes in the area “undemocratic”.

People say Epping Forest Council squeezed in some extra sites to its Local Plan after already asking people for their views.

But now the Epping Forest Society is determined to hold the authority to account over the “important” issue.

Andrew Smith, the immediate past chairman, said: “We don’t think this is satisfactory, it’s deeply flawed. It’s undemocratic.

“It’s sad because we foresaw this and we made a comment about it at the time. Now there’s a lot of mistrust there and that’s not surprising.

“The council say they want to engage in the community to make these decisions. We acknowledge it’s difficult in an area like this but we disagree with the council on many aspects.”

The group say they have had no commitment the authority will re-consult, leaving them frustrated at the process.

He added: “More than 100 new sites have been put forward, some large and some tiny. We can’t blame people for putting their land forward as they get a nice cheque.

“But that isn’t what the green belt is for. So without consulting and re-evaluating these new sites against proper criteria, they’ve just included them.”

Members are also keen to ensure they protect Green Belt land from being turned into new homes.

The decision to build new homes in the area has caused public outcry, with many coming forward to complain of overdevelopment.

Mr Smith added: “Local development is one of the most sensitive issues, as well as provision of public services.

“People are worried as they don’t really know what’s happening. Never in a million years did we think the green belt would be built on.

“It was set up for a reason and it’s been tremendously successful – for the environment and for wildlife protection.

“We are upset, I’d say I’m angry.”

Epping Forest District Council consulted on the plan last year and received 3,000 responses.

It says aside from the Draft Local Plan, a number of other documents were published which set out the process for selected the preferred residential and traveller site allocations.

“The council is currently undertaking further site selection work as part of the progression of the Local Plan process.

“Arising from the consultation the council has compiled a list of new sites that have been submitted for consideration by owners/land agents since the 2016 site selection process,” it said.

“We have amended sites where the boundaries have changed thus requiring further assessment, and sites withdrawn by the landowner and developer.”

The authority reiterated these are not “proposed site allocations” and have only been put forward for consideration.

“All these are being assessed and will be considered alongside the sites in the Draft Local Plan before the final set of sites is published.”