AN application to demolish a popular equestrian centre on green belt land and build two new homes has attracted scores of objections.

Rochford District Council received more than 80 letters of objection against proposals to tear down The Ramblers Riding Club, in Eastwood, and build two new homes next to an existing property on the site.

The club currently provides pony lessons including to disabled and other children from the area.

One of the buildings on the site is also used as a children’s party room, which is used to as part of pony riding parties and interaction between children and small animals.

Objectors to the scheme, in Eastwood Rise, came from far and wide, including those living in Southend, Shoebury and even South Woodham Ferrers.

They said it would result in the “closure of a popular, local and well-used family run business which is an asset to the community”.

The centre, near a wildlife site and a fishing lake, was noted “for their work with children, providing riding lessons including disabled children” and for being “the only riding school in Essex that provides riding for disabled children with the correct saddles and trained staff and atmosphere required for children with special educational needs”.

One objector said: “I strongly object to planning permission because I think the community and disabled children need to been given these opportunities when not a lot else is available to them.”

Another added: “Loss of the business will be devastating to children who use the site and a great loss to the community.”

After initially raising objections to the scheme over concerns the site is a previous landfill area, the Environment Agency said it would not object if a raft of provisos were adhered to, including carrying out a risk assessment.

Planning officers did not object to homes on the site in principle but nevertheless recommended refusal.

A report said: “The applicant has failed to demonstrate satisfactorily that feasible and appropriate foul drainage could be provided to serve the proposed development without which the proposed residential redevelopment would not be an appropriate use of the site particularly given the historic use of the site as a landfill and proximity to an ecologically sensitive site to the north.”