LABOUR councillors have vowed to fight council plans to sell off land in Laindon to help pay off the debt left on the £38million Sporting Village.

The Conservative administration have hired consultants to draw up plans to build hundreds of new homes on land off Ballards Walk which is worth about £5million.

Council bosses had also earmarked Kent View Road recreation ground in Vange for housing but after a successful resident’s campaign the council chose not to proceed, instead they said they would sell the land off Ballards Walk.

Nigel Smith, leader of the Labour group and a councillor in Lee Chapel North where the land is going to be sold, has warned residents and councillors will do all they can to fight the plans.

Mr Smith said: “This is the second blow for residents of the ward and it is the second leisure facility that we might lose for housing. We have already lost Markhams Chase Leisure Centre to housing and now it looks like this land which is very well used for recreation and by dog walkers.

“I know we need new homes but this is not the right place for them. My main worry is the extra traffic it would cause and the highways set up would just not cope.

“There are no access roads to the A13 or A127 nearby, I think we need to be looking at land on the A127 as potential sites.

“It is not fair for residents to have to face up to the reality of losing another community asset for another housing estate. We as the councillors will be standing with the residents and doing all we can to prevent this happening.”

Tony Ball, leader of the council, added: “I appreciate selling land for housing is a contentious issue, but this is a site that has always been identified for future housing need.

“It has also been suggested in the past the council should have borrowed the full amount for the Sporting Village and done away with the need to sell land. But the repayments of such a loan would have resulted in a council tax increase of up to seven per cent.”