Almost £500,000 of taxpayers’ money was wasted drawing up Castle Point Council’s long-term housing plan, which was scrapped at the last minute by councillors.

The local authority has admitted it cost £477,513 to research and design the local development framework over the last four years.

The document set out plans to build on large areas of green belt, including 500 homes east of Rayleigh Road, Daws Heath, 600 at Jotmans Hall Farm, Benfleet, 650 off Kiln Road, Thundersley, and 300 east of Canvey Road, Canvey.

It was scrapped by councillors at a meeting on Tuesday night because of overwhelming opposition from thousands of residents.

Neville Watson, for the opposition Canvey Independent Party, said: “This is a substantial amount of money for a local authority to lose and someone should be held accountable.

“There were huge faults with this plan and I consistently warned there was no chance of it being passed. You have to ask why this council keeps getting it’s policies wrong over housing.”

He added hundreds of thousands of pounds was also wasted trying to transfer the borough’s council homes to Swann Housing Association three years ago.

This plan was rejected through a vote by council tenants.

It is understood much of the cost of developing the local development framework over the last four years went on external consultants.

Simon Hart, 47, from Daws Heath, one of the leaders of the Hands Off Our Green Belt campaign, refused to criticise the council over the wasted money.

He said: “The most important thing is that they’ve dropped the plans to build on our green belt.”

A spokesman for Castle Point Council said: “Total costs relating to the local development framework since 2007/08 are £477,513, of which £427,207 was funded by external government grants.”

Canvey Independent Party leader Dave Blackwell called for Tory council leader Pam Challis to resign over the demise of the plan.