PLANS to build more than 500 new homes in Aveley look set for the go-ahead after Thurrock Council’s planning committee disagreed with its own officers’ recommendations.

The application to build a new housing estate on the former London Fire Brigade Sports and Social Club had been met with huge opposition and was expected to be rejected last Thursday.

However, a majority of committee members were swayed by arguments put forward by Westview Properties agent Nigel Bennett, who said he was “surprised and disappointed” at the recommended refusal.

If given the green light at the next planning meeting on October 24, the community will benefit from a support package, including an £800,000 donation towards a new sports hall at Treetops School in Grays, sports pitches and changing rooms at Belhus and a new bowls club.

The plans were initially recommended refusal as they were deemed to represent an “overwhelming detrimental impact on green belt land”.

And speaking against the development, Aveley and Uplands ward councillor Maureen Pearce said: “Green belt land must be kept away from developers before it is all gone. We have had a number of homes built in Aveley recently and now is the time to draw the line.”

Members split the floor voting 4-4 with chairman Cllr Terry Hipsey’s casting vote going for the project, having initially abstained, to cries of protest from the public gallery.

The recommendation will now be brought back to the next planning meeting for final approval.

Grays Athletic Football Club could be major beneficiaries of the project.

With the new sports hall being provided at Treetops, the school will then give the Blues land to build a new community stadium.

Ironically, Aveley FC could be hit hard by a successful proposal.

The club sent a letter of objection to the planning committee as plans to relocate sports pitches to Belhus could compromise their own planned new ground, which would be at that site.