A FORGOTTEN route connecting two peaceful villages is once again being used by speeding traffic, to the anger of residents.
Only four-wheel drives and horses could pass along Byway 4, in Pilgrims Hatch, because of the stream cutting across it.
But after years of peace villagers are now being plagued by vehicles using the route as a cut-through since Essex County Council levelled out the road, resurfaced it and created a ford over the stream.
Residents, who claim they were not aware of the planned project, are angry the lane linking Beads Hall Lane to Days Lane has now effectively been opened up to anyone and everyone - even though signs warn that it is a no-through route.
However, Simon Bennett, director of environmental services, said the route was in fact registered as a thoroughfare and should therefore be acceptable.
A petition containing 143 names is calling for the banks of the stream in Beads Hall Lane to be reinstated.
The petitioners say: "Thus removing the ford and preventing unnecessary motorised vehicles traversing the length of Beads Hall Lane at great speed."
One resident said: "It's a job to say how many cars are using it. It's more than it used to be.
"We weren't consulted on it. Workmen put caravans down two weeks before the work but the council told us there was not enough time to consult us - two weeks is plenty of time.
"It says it is a no-through road at either end and before it was impassable. It needs to be put back as it was."
Ward councillor Barry Aspinell, who tabled the petition, said he was keen for the borough council to examine the issue, which highways chairman Cllr Lionel Lee agreed to do following a site visit.
Cllr Linda Golding added: "I find it outrageous that we were not given a heads up by county council."
A spokesman for the borough council said it had a legal duty to maintain all public rights of way to a standard which is suitable for all permitted users. Funding from Essex County Council was then found to improve the route.
The spokesman added: "Due to the short time between being told by Essex County Council that work could go ahead at the end of the financial year, by which time the money had to be spent, there was, regrettably, limited opportunity to inform local residents of the intended work.
"Therefore, after completion of the work, a letter was sent to all residents of Beads Hall Lane advising them of the reasons for the works being required and apologising for no consultation with them having taken place."