A planning application which will see The Old School House, Coppice Row, extended and converted into houses, has divided the residents of Theydon Bois.

David McKelvey, chairman for Theydon Bois Action Group, slammed the plans, saying that they are disrespectful to the memory of the building, and detrimental to the charm of the village.

He said: “The Old School House is historically very important to Theydon Bois. It is the oldest of our Locally Listed buildings and dates from 1840.

“It is also in the Green Belt and in our newly designated Conservation Area.

“Theydon Bois Conservation Group would not like to see any alteration or addition to the present building, which would jeopardise its inclusion on the Local Lost.”

Residents living in the village say that they would prefer it if the building remained the same.

81-year-old Kathleen Rice, who lives in Elizabeth drive, says that the last thing that the village needs is more housing.

She said: “It is rather a nice building and I think that it should be left that way.

“It seems a pity that yet more houses are going to be built.”

However, those living around The Old School House have embraced the idea of yet more neighbours.

Mrs E Webster, 52, lives directly opposite the site and says that she cannot understand why people in the village are so upset about it.

She said: “It hasn’t been a school for many years now.

“If it had been anything bigger then I might have said no, but just two houses doesn’t bother us.

“Surely it should be the opinions of people living down this road that matter, as it is us that the changes will affect.”

Peter Gauntlett, who owns the building, says that the plans will actually protect The Old School House from future plans, which could see it knocked down.

He said: “We are too old and the building is too big, we need to move.

“The extension will be in exactly the same style.

“We are not demolishing or destroying the building, if anything we are ensuring that The Old School House has a future.”

Anybody who wishes to oppose the planning application has until Monday, February 11, and should write to David Baker at the Civic Offices in Epping High Street, or make a representation online at http://plan1.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/PLComments.aspx?pk=544382.