PLANS for 87 new flats on the site of an old car dealership have been rejected by Basildon Council, despite a last minute attempt by the developers to change the plans.

The move has been hailed a success by campaigners from the Wickford Action Group who described the development as “criminal” because of its location on Golden Jubilee Way, which has a speed limit of 50mph, the lack of parking and the large number of flats already in Wickford.

Basildon Council’s planning committee deliberate for two hours and decided to go against the officers recommendations to approve the development, despite risks of legal action from developer Bellway Homes.

Bellway Homes said they were “disappointed” with the decision and would be appealing against the ruling.

The councillors rejected the plans on the grounds of highway issues and the lack of safe access into the site and the lack of car parking spaces.

David Harrison, who is vice-chairman of the action group, spoke at the meeting and said he was pleased the council had rejected the plans.

He said: “It is an inappropriate development in the wrong place, we already have too many flats in the town. We have been opposed from the start and pleased the council stuck to their guns and said no.

“No doubt Bellway will come forward with an appeal but to approve this without any improvements to infrastructure would be criminal.

“The people of Wickford have been promised a new health centre and swimming pool, a library and better community facilities, none of which have come forward.

“Wickford is the poor relation of the borough and its good that this has been rejected and we will just have to wait and see what happens.”

Officers from Bellway Homes spoke at the meeting and tried to ask councillors to consider a filter lane into Golden Jubilee Way to make access safer.

Malcolm Buckley, who is councillor with responsibility for regeneration at Basildon Council, and a ward member for Wickford, also spoke against the application and said the site should never be built on.

Bellway Homes would have put aside £64,000 for town centre regeneration if the development had got the go ahead.

A spokesman for Bellway Homes added: “We were very disappointed with the decision at the meeting and we will be appealing on the on the basis that the site had a historical consent which lapsed.

"Our new plan included more landscaping and car parking and we were disappointed that the application was not passed.”