Basildon Council has admitted to not assessing how its decision to legalise several traveller sites would impact on the price of nearby residents' homes.

The admission was made during a council meeting when former mayor David Harrison – who was mayor when an earlier traveller site plan was announced – asked if an assessment had been completed on house prices in Wickford.

Richard Moore, chair of the council’s strategic planning and infrastructure committee, said he was “surprised” at the question because the former mayor had not called for a similar assessment when the previous plan was announced.

He said: “I do not recall any debate at the then infrastructure and growth development committees regarding the undertaking of impact assessments on the affect of the local plan gypsy and traveller policy on house prices.

“As he is well aware, Mr Harrison and his then coalition partners did not consider an impact assessment was required then and we don’t now.”

The plans are part of the council’s local plan – which will decide where 20,000 new homes, traveller sites and businesses are placed over the next 15 years.

One of the most controversial proposals included in the plan is to make 13 illegal pitches authorised and made legal – bringing the total in the Hovefields area in Wickford to 26.

Mr Moore went on to say that the “value of properties is not a material planning consideration” and so no impact assessment on the effect of any policies in the local plan on house prices was required.

Despite this, Beth Braun, an estate agent at Rona, in Wickford, confirmed traveller sites can be “problematic”.

She said: “It does affect the value of a home. If we get a property on the market that is close to a traveller site it is a lot harder to shift than a property elsewhere, so it does affect the price as people aren’t prepared to pay when they may experience some of the problems caused by these sites.

“With Wickford being where it is, we do have a few of these sites and I think that if the council was to legalise them it would have an impact prices.”

A draft of Basildon’s Local Plan was sent for review by the secretary of state at the end of March.