PLANS for 350 homes on green belt land have been approved by the Secretary of State.

Eric Pickles has given Barratt Homes the green light to start building homes on St Clere’s Golf Course in Butts Lane, Stanford-le-Hope, silencing a hard-fought campaign by residents.

Over the last 18 months, the Residents Against Inappropriate Development group have staged peaceful protests, held meetings, and collected more than 2,000 signatures against the plans.

One of the founding members of the group, Eve Ross, said they now felt deceived.

Mrs Ross, 68, whose house in Butts Lane faces the golf course, said: “We bought our home because it was facing green belt land and we thought it would never be built on.

“Now the entrance to the development will face my house and we’ll have headlights lighting up our front room and our bedroom.

“350 houses is just too many for that bit of land. The scale of it is astronomical.”

The group had hoped Mr Pickles’ Localism Bill, which included plans to “radically” reform planning by giving communities a greater say, would see off the developer.

Mrs Ross said: “The Bill is supposed to be about giving more power to councils and communities.

“We collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition, everybody was against it, including Thurrock Council.

“We did all we could, we just feel we’ve been deceived.”

The original planning application was approved by Thurrock Thames Gateway Development in February 2011, but called in by Eric Pickles in May, as he was concerned the proposal might conflict with national policies.

An inquiry was held in October, where inspector Graham Dudley recommended planning permission be granted.

Mr Dudley said the application will result in the land being improved, and the creation of a new open space as part of the scheme will provide a positive environment, thus outweighing the harm to the green belt.

Mr Pickles has now given outline permission, meaning the land can be built on, but Barratt will have to get specific details approved by Thurrock Council.