The leader of a council which recently abolished 'impotent' planning committees has moved to quash fears it will leave residents powerless.

Last month Ongar Town Councillors voted to scrap its fortnightly planning committee, meaning its recommendations would no longer be sent to Epping Forest District Council for consideration ahead of its final decision.

A town council statement describing the committees as 'impotent' angered some, such as Mary Dadd, chairman of Ongar Neighbourhood Plan Community Group.

She expressed fears that developers would be able to "run roughshod" over the town with little restraining forces.

Derek Birch, town council chairman, has argued will not be the case as members will not completely removed from the planning process.

He said: "We believe by going through the process when it is the district that make the decision we are just giving residents false hope.

"The councillors are still sent the planning applications to go through.

"If a councillor wants to get involved with a particular one, they still can.

" If it is a very significant planning application we can still get involved as a council.

"We are not the first in the country to do this.

"We are just being realistic."