Angry residents and councillors fear a ‘hypocritical’ council could set a precedent after allowing homes to be build on a previously protected piece of green belt land.

On Tuesday night, Castle Point Council’s development control committee carried out a u-turn and voted through proposals under ‘special circumstances’ to build 13 expensive homes on Brickfields, in Great Burches Road, Thundersley.

The plan was given to the council in September, and was recommended for refusal by officers as the site was a green belt, and was withdrawn from considering.

Over the next few months, planners at the authority identified nine sites, including Brickfields, as suitable for housing in a bid to encourage development to arrest a chornic shortfall, and the plan for the four to five bedroom homes was passed.

Anne Pope, 55, of Common Approach, Thundersley, said: “The loss of the green belt could set a precedent now which is dangerous.

“Every single application on this patch has been turned down and now for some reason this one has been passed and we can’t understand why."

Jenifer Howlett, of Hermitage Avenue, Thundersley, said: “We fought for years to keep this land.

“I can’t believe the council could be so hypocritical.”

Brentwood-based developers, Stonebound Properties Ltd, who will build the homes, pledged to preserve the area.

Currently, the 13 acre site is home to several dilapidated industrial buildings, surrounded by woodland.

The plans were passed eight votes to four, while Jane King, from the Canvey Island Independent Party, turned up to the meeting late so was exempt from voting and taking part in the discussion.

Brickfields was selected one of several sites for development in the council’s five year housing strategy for Castle Point, but councillors who voted against the plans argued that 13 non-affordable homes would only create a dint in the numbers of homes needed for the area.

John Anderson, from the Canvey Independent Party, said: “I can’t understand what the special circumstances are.

“I fail to see what has changed over the past three months.”

“It’s for 13 four or five bedroom expensive houses and that will not contribute much to the area’s housing need.”

In passing the proposal, councillors said that putting homes on the site would be appropriate.

Speaking during the meeting, councillor Norman Smith, who voted for the homes, said: “It’s a beautiful piece of land that has gone to ruin over the past few years.

“Now this application has come to fruition, I believe we have the opportunity to see this site used in an appriopriate way with four or five bedroom homes.

“To have a high density building on there would be criminal.

“It will preserve the site as it should be preserved and not used as used an industrial unit as it is at the moment.”

Steven Butler, a planning consultant for the joint applicants Stonebound Properites, and Robert Leonard Group, spoke at the meeting to justify the application.

He said: “This provides an opportunity to contribute much needed housing in the borough and we have worked closely with the council to sort out any issues since we last submitted the application.”

The application was initially refused in September, but following the council’s re-think of green belt areas in Castle Point, it was passed last night.

Mr Butler added: “Both the applicants have gone out their way to make sure that the development would be respectful to the surroundings.

“This will be a major enhacement of the site.

“If the application is passed, the applicants will deliver the housing on time and it will make a valuable contribution to the housing need in the borough.”