A Conservative councillor has described plans for a major housing development as a “monstrosity”.
Outline planning permission has been granted by the government for 2,800 homes at the Eastgate shopping centre in Basildon in Essex.
But Craig Rimmer, Basildon Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, vowed to continue fighting the plans, which allow for nine 21-storey tower blocks.
The developers, InfraRed, said the plan would put the town “back on the map”.
The government’s Planning Inspectorate overruled the council’s decision to reject the scheme, which was originally approved by the local Labour administration.
Mr Rimmer said: “This development is trying to create a town within a town and take away from our natural townscape and heritage.
The Planning Inspectorate also granted permission in April for a separate development, north of Basildon town centre, providing nearly 500 new flats.
“I don’t think we have brought this on ourselves,” said Mr Rimmer.
“I think it’s possible the planning inspectorate would be overruling us even if we had adopted a local plan.
“I don’t think they [the planning inspectorate] understand Basildon. They don’t quite understand this post-war new town, the architecture and what is trying to be achieved here.”
Maryam Yaqub, the leader of the opposition Labour group on the council, said the Conservatives knew the government would grant permission, despite promises to block the development in the most recent local election campaign.
The owner of the Eastgate shopping centre, InfraRed UK Lion Limited Partnership, is currently in financial administration.
InfraRed – and administrator, FTI Consulting – have been approached for comment.
“There are always other routes to keep fighting,” added Mr Rimmer.
“Hopefully we can work with the new buyers [of the Eastgate shopping centre] to see if we can have a more constructive dialogue that has the local community in mind.”