A popular park in Laindon will become a housing estate after a controversial £7.5million deal was sealed, the Echo can reveal.

Developer Redrow Homes will build 135 homes on playing fields off Ballards Walk, in Lee Chapel North.

Work is set to start at the end of the year.

The huge sum finally pays off the £38million Sporting Village, which opened in 2011.

However, the landmark decision has angered many residents unhappy with the loss of another park area.

Malcolm Buckley, Basildon councillor responsible for regeneration, said: “I appreciate selling land for housing could be contentious to some people, but this site has always been identified for future housing need and we must provide new homes for local people.

“I’m pleased we’ve found a buyer for the land. Redrow will build an exciting scheme, providing an improved mix of housing in this area.

The site is green field, but has never been classified as green belt.

Mr Buckley added: “As an urban development, Ballards Walk gives us the opportunity to reduce the impact of building on green belt.”

In 2012, the council paid consultant GL Hearne £300,000 to draw up a planning application, which was passed last November.

The authority then used this application to help market the land to developers, and now Redrow has snapped it up.

Nigel Smith, leader of the opposition Labour party, who represents Lee Chapel North, said: “To pay for the destruction of Gloucester Park with the Sporting Village, the council has approved the destruction of Ballards Walk. This is really bad news.”

Keith Parrett, Redrow’s regional chief executive, said: “Our development will feature a mix of properties which will appeal to a range of buyers and include affordable homes to meet local need.”

The estate will offer a mixture of two, three and four-bedroom homes. Residents claim the Ballards Walk development, coupled with a scheme for 73 homes in Markhams Chase, will put a huge amount of pressure on St Nicholas Lane, in Laindon.

Basildon Council has proposed 2,300 extra homes to be built in Laindon as part of its local plan from 2011 to 2031, mainly in the west towards Dunton.

Ballards Walk, which has outline permission, is included in that plan.