THE government has overturned the decision to build 501 homes on greenbelt land in Aveley.

The huge development on the former London Fire Brigade Sports and Social Club was given the green light in November 2013, sparking uproar among residents.

Residents reacted furiously to the plans being given the go-ahead, arguing that Aveley would not be able to cope with all the extra homes.

A petition at the time gathered nearly 500 signatures against the proposal.

Developers promised to build a new sports centre and football ground for Grays Athletic at Treetops School in Grays as part of the plans.

An inspection in July saw Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price and developers amongst those questioned on the development, after it was called in by Secretary of State Eric Pickles following the decision of Thurrock Council’s planning committee to give the controversial plans the green light.

The inspector today overturned the decision for reasons including the reduction of the openess of the greenbelt; that it would merge the communities of Purfleet and Aveley and would encroach into the countryside.

Ms Doyle-Price was behind the petition against the development, and has welcomed the inspectors decision.

She said: “It is entirely right that this planning application has been rejected. The proposals are against local and national policy on greenbelt. I cannot understand what the Planning committee were thinking when they approved this. The inquiry has taken a year to resolve and has cost the council, the Government and the developer a lot of money. All very unnecessary if the planning committee upheld Thurrock’s policies.

“I would like to thank all the members of the community who came together and supported my petition. I was pleased to be able to present their concerns to the Planning inquiry and I am pleased that the evidence presented is reflected in the Inspector’s conclusions.”

Aveley’s UKIP councillor Tim Aker was also deleighted to see the plans chucked out.

He said: “The pressure and support from the people of Aveley has been heard in Westminster because we never stopped talking about defending our green spaces. This is a victory for the people of Aveley.

“Residents right across Thurrock are sick and tired of over-development adding increasing strain to our infrastructure. This is impacting on schools and the Aveley Medical Centre most.

A Thurrock Council spokesperson said: "Thurrock’s Planning Committee members considered that, on balance, the provision of housing was a positive thing. The Secretary of State also recognises that housing needs to be provided in the borough, but has decided this site is not a right one.

"Through the current review of the Local Plan the council will work hard to identify appropriate sites that can help meet Thurrock’s housing needs."