BARLEYLANDS Farm wants to expand its craft village to create 15 new jobs.

Bosses at the tourist attraction in Billericay, have drawn up ambitious plans to transform an agricultural building into a shop and extra workshops.

The 960sq m building, which was previously used to store machinery and house the farmers’ market, will make way for a home and concessions store.

Existing craftsmen will be given the opportunity to move into larger workshops, while new businesses could also open.

The farm and craft village has grown in popularity since it first opened in 1984, and is now home to more than 60 different craft shops selling artwork, photography, handmade clothes, pottery, metalwork and stained glass.

Visitors to Barleylands can also enjoy tractor rides, watch bird of prey shows, and get close to farm animals.

The site is on green belt land, but bosses have argued the project will not harm it as the building already exists.

David McPherson Davis, a Ramsden Crays parish councillor, slammed the expansion proposals and said the site was in danger of becoming a shopping centre.

He added: “You have to remember this started out as a farm in the green belt.

“There are already a lot of shops and if they allow any more it will become like an out-of-town retail park.

“There seem to be events on every weekend now, including wedding fairs and these events cause a lot of traffic through the village.

“I thought planning permission was also required for regular events such as this, so any further expansion needs to be monitored closely.”

Basildon Council will decide on the plans by September.