MAJOR plans to build hundreds of new homes on the site of a former golf course have been unanimously approved.

The former Towerlands Park site, in Bocking, is set to be turned into a 575-home estate after members of Braintree Council’s planning committee gave the green light during a meeting on Tuesday.

The Unex Group now has outline planning permission in place for the scheme, which will include the construction of 172 affordable homes, a new nursery or school and shops.

The council’s planning boss Gabrielle Spray said she was impressed by the plans and believed they would have a positive impact on the area.

She said: “There is an awful lot to like about this development. I know when the Straits Mill application came up we all thought it was an extremely high quality design.

“I do believe the hard working officers, and with the willingness of the applicants, they have probably pulled it off again, this does look very good and is very commendable.

“There are aspects of it such as car use and potential transport issues which we all share.

“But there are things I particularly like, such as the wild flower meadow and pond area.

“The cycle provision is also excellent – it’s something this council is very keen to get people moving on bikes.”

Towerlands Park closed in July 2012 and the land, which has been earmarked as a potential site for housing in the council’s draft local plan, has been empty ever since.

The site is estimated to be the size of 45 football pitches.

Around 86 objections were made against the scheme by members of the public, with many citing concerns over increased traffic and overdevelopment of the site.

Panfield Parish Council also objected, stating the application “seriously underestimated” the number of vehicle movements it would generate in the surrounding villages.

But no objections were raised by either Highways England or Essex Highways – paving the way for the plans to be approved.

It is expected it will take eight years to build the development.

The Unex Group will be required to make financial contributions to healthcare, education and leisure facilities as part of its planning permission.

The new estate will be included on bus routes, with a new route touted to link the development with Panfield and Dunmow.