205 homes will be built on the edge of Halstead after a planning committee admitted its hands are tied by a lack of local plan for the district.

Braintree Council Planning Committee met last night, approving Gladmans Development's plans to build 205 homes on land off Sudbury Road, Halstead.

More than 1300 objections were submitted by residents who opposed the plans, with the planning committee admitting this was the largest number they could remember.

But with the district vulnerable due to a lack of local plan, and subsequently being governed by National Planning Policy Framework, and no objections raised by Essex County Council's highways department or other authoritative bodies, the committee found no grounds for objection.

Councillor David Mann admitted that without a Local Plan in place, the committee were in a planning equivalent of "limbo".

He said: "It is sites like this that are most vulnerable, situated on the fringe of existing urban areas.

"It is clear that there are disadvantages to this site, and you have chronicled them impressively.

"There will certainly be an impact on the road network but the highways authority have raised no objection.

"We have to approve unless we can demonstrate serious adverse affect, yes there is going to be an adverse affect, but is it serious enough?"

Councillor Gabrielle Spray admitted she is registered at Halstead's GP, and has queued up like many residents in an attempt to book an appointment as well as acknowledging the wealth of highways issues likely to come with the site.

She said: "There is no denying Highways issues but the Highways department have raised no issues, and we simply cannot overpower their views.

"It does not make happy hearing for the public, and it does not make happy hearing for many members of the council either."

The final member of the planning committee to speak on the plans was Lady Patricia Newton, who feared the council would not be able to defend its decision on appeal.

She said: "This is yet another difficult decision that has been placed in front of us.

"But we do need to ask ourselves, would we be content to defend our decision to reject the plans on appeal."