DETAILS about how a new housing estate will look could be decided behind closed doors.

Developer Redrow Homes was granted permission to build 135 homes on a playing field off Ballards Walk, Laindon, in May.

But the finer points of the scheme, including details of the layout and design of the estate will be decided by Basildon Council’s planning committee chairman Carole Morris using “delegated powers”, according to a leaked document.

Mrs Morris denied a decision has been made, but the document, seen by the Echo, shows the Ballards Walk decision is due to be made this week.

This comes just weeks after delegated powers were used to approve details of the first phase of the 725- home Dry Street estate.

Opposition councillors branded the situation an “absolute disgrace”.

Frank Ferguson, councillor for Lee Chapel North, said: “I don’t know when the decision will be made, but there’s been a lot of emails going back and forth between Carole Morris and planning committee members saying how disgraceful it is that Dry Street was dealt with in this way and how this should come to the planning committee.”

Councils are legally allowed to use delegated powers to decide reserved matters and at this stage the planning committee is unable to reverse the decision that approved the building of 135 homes on the site.

Mrs Morris will make the decision with a planning officer from the council.

Mrs Morris defended her decision surrounding the use of delegated powers over Dry Street.

She said: “It’s all the detail, but everyone thinks more houses have been decided when they haven’t, which is why that was used in regard to Dry Street.

“The problem is the public do not understand that it’s just the details of it, they seem to think they are building extra houses, which is not the case.

“All the councillors on the planning committee were given the opportunity to look at the plans before the decision was made.”

Alan Bennett, councillor for Lee Chapel North, said despite the reserved matters only including details over layout and design, the plan should be discussed at a planning committee meeting.

He added: “We realise we are past the stage of saying this shouldn’t be happening, but with this many homes involved we have to see the layout and design.

“It’s a refusal of democracy, we are elected by the public and with Dry Street saying the public and even some planning committee members don’t understand what reserved matters are, come on, it’s an absolute disgrace.”