A NEW college for Basildon town centre has been given the green light by councillors.

Residents and councillors packed out the council meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the plans to build the £30million South Essex College in the town.

The plans had been earmarked for approval and now conditional planning permission has been granted.

But the proposals met with fierce opposition from campaigners who said an agreement would likely mean the old college in Nethermayne will be sold off to allow a major housing development of up to 850 homes on land, including the neighbouring Dry Street wildlife haven.

Campaigners called the plans 'third rate' and 'ill conceived' yet the decision wasn't discussed alongside the plans to sell off Dry Street land as it is a different planning application.

Councillors Williams, Archibald and Bennett initially called for the meeting to be deferred until the forthcoming decision on selling the Nethermayne site had been made but this was rejected.

Representatives from the college said the move was a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity that would improve parking in the town centre, and bring more job opportunities.