Brentwood councillors defied the authority's planning officers to reject plans for 125 homes.

A proposal for the development, on land next to Nags Head Lane, had been recommended for approval ahead of the decision.

The planning application for the development of the site was deferred from a July planning committee to allow further engagement with neighbours.

This resulted in changes welcomed by residents to the scheme around layout, design and landscaping along the eastern boundary and clustering of affordable housing.

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However, issues around the access point for the development were used as a reason to refuse the application late last month – even though Essex Highways had raised no concerns about this aspect.

Planning officer Fiona Dunning told the planning committee: “If it was refused on highways safety grounds – this highways authority have stated that there are no highways safety issues. It is a very weak reason for refusal in my opinion.”

But vice chairman of the committee, Councillor Martin Cuthbert, said: “I think this application will be approved no matter what we do. I think the last application would have been approved and I think this application is compliant and if it goes to an inspector it will almost certainly be overturned if refused.”

Mark Baker, from the Mascalls Gardens Residents Association, said residents face upheaval from what they say will be a loss of privacy and the impact on the community.

He said: “The number of cars on the estate will have access from Nags Head Lane which is opposite the proposed Brentwood Gateway, with industrial units, garages and dwellings.

“This will contribute enormously to the vehicles on Nags Head Lane.”

Councillor David Kendall felt there were a number of issues to be resolved.

He said: “The development is still going to have a serious visual impact on many of the residents living in Mascalls Gardens. It will overlook and dwarf the bungalows and totally obliterate the wonderful views they currently enjoy.

"In my view the developer is still trying to cram too many properties on the site and there is inadequate open space.”

Committee member Keith Barber believed the entry point to the estate from Nags Head Lane was in the wrong place.

Cllr Barber referred to a policy in the local plan which states that “developments must not have an unacceptable impact on the transport network in terms of highway safety, capacity and congestion”.

He said: “I believe we are entitled to take a different view to the highways authority and on this occasion I respectfully do.”

The committee voted seven to five in favour of refusing the application.