COUNCIL chiefs are paying £300,000 to consultants to dream up plans for a controversial housing development in Laindon.

A private firm will prepare proposals for a new housing scheme on the council owned green off Ballards Walk so it can be sold off to help plug a £5million debt run up during the development of the £35million sports village in Gloucester Park.

Council leader Tony Ball said: “The planning specialists will develop an outline planning application and dispose of the site. They need £300,000 to act as advisers and prepare the application.

“This area was always going to come up for housing at some time to protect green belt areas.”

Basildon Labour group leader Nigel Smith reacted with dismay to the cash involved, saying residents did not even want the site developed.

He said: “We are Losing a facility and the taxpayer has to stick their hand in their pocket to pay £300,000 for advice to dispose of a bit of land they don’t want to get rid. It is good money if you can get it, so we don’t have the skills to do this? I think we need a stronger case for this sort of spend.”