A BARRISTER has questioned the need for the council to follow its own planning rules in an inquiry into how 501 homes got the go-ahead to be built on greenbelt in Aveley.

Responding to a witness arguing against the development, Harriet Townsend - a barrister acting on behalf of developers – questioned the importance of the Local Development Framework, during the hearing at Grays Civic Offices today.

She said: “Should the council follow its own rules just because it has got them, even though they are incapable of meeting people’s needs?”

Her question was followed by two residents’ statements in support of the development, which was controversially given the go-ahead to be built on the old London Fire Brigades Sports and Social Club in November, arguing the area and the borough had a chronic shortage of available housing.

Phil Ward, 40, of Purfleet Road, Aveley, told government inspector Jennifer Vyse his children were struggle to find properties in the area.

He said: “I’ve got two young people planning for their own homes who are probably going to be moving out of the area because there’s nothing there.

“My back garden backs onto the (proposed) development and what I’m always up against is people going out there on motorbikes, footballers jumping over the fence and people setting their dogs off.

“We’ve also had seven or eight burglaries in the last few months and there were horses abandoned in there for three days before anyone did anything about it – it’s looking a mess.”

Anne Martin, 48, of Marine Court, Purfleet, said residents in the town also had an interest in the development as there was a shortage of homes there, too.

Yesterday, Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price told the inquiry the development would lead to an effective merger of Aveley and Purfleet.

Mrs Martin said: “I’m in a position now where I’ve lived here 25 years, I’m disabled, and I’ve got a son with no other family.

“He’s saving for a deposit (on a house) but he’s looking outside the area – I would ideally like him to stay near me because, in the next couple of years, I could need him to be my carer.”

Councillor Robert Ray spoke against the development, however, arguing a large portion of the new homes would not be taken by Thurrock locals.

He said: “This area is becoming an overspill – we know the majority of rents will not go to local people as most will be tied up in long term contracts with neighbouring London authorities.”