THE OWNER of a popular pub and wedding venue in the green belt says he may never close despite plans for a carehome to be built in its place being given the nod by councilors.

Basildon Council’s development control committee gave the green light to a planning application from house builder One Property Group for an 82-bed care home on the site of the Belvedere at the junction of Harding Elms Road and Oak Road, Crays Hill.

It will now go to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles for the final say on the planning application, because the site is in the green belt.

Shaun O’Donaghue, 52, who owns the pub and also the Halfway House on the A127 near Warley, said: “I just want to stress to everyone that the Belvedere is still open and that will be the case for the foreseeable future. I have not made the application, and as owner would have to have the final say on this.

"At the moment it is still not approved, because it has to go to the secretary of state first.”

He said if it does get final approval, he would have to carefully consider any offers before making a decision on closing the venue.

He added: “Clearly if they came forward with a significant financial offer I would have to consider it, but for the moment, it is business as usual.”

The Belvedere has been there since the early Eighties and is popular for wedding receptions and music nights. Under the plans, the Belvedere golf driving range next door would remain with 54 parking spaces.

Crays Hill residents had mixed views on the proposals. Len Gridley, 54, from Oak Road, Crays Hill, said: “I think it should be approved and will be a benefit to the community.

I don’t think anyone is objecting.” However, David McPherson-Davis, a Ramsden Crays parish councillor, said: “I do have concerns about the impact this will have on the highways. They should provide a turning circle or bus stop at least to limit the effect of too much traffic.”