Controversial plans to build more than 50 new homes on a cramped Garston estate have taken a big step forward.

Watford Borough Council’s development control committee approved Watford Community Housing Trust's proposals for its side of the Boundary Way estate last night.

The move means the final say on the plans will be Three Rivers District Council’s as it is the authority for the Western end of the estate.

The plans to build 55 new homes in two and three-storey buildings have been criticised by residents as being "back-to-back concrete" and looking "East German and Russian".

The trust proposals are to demolish two blocks of flats and a shop as well as 15 rows of lock-up garages to make way for the new homes.

As well as the new homes the trust also promises to build a "community facility", a community garden and to refurbish two play areas.

The trust also plans to create open parking courts and on-street parking bays.

At the meeting last night estate resident, Catherine Birch, told the committee that the people of Boundary Way already "live in concrete" but were proud of their community.

She said the people there thought the trust plans were cramming too many new homes into the area with not enough parking.

Ms Birch finished her address with a plea to the committee, saying: "The decision you make tonight is a decision we residents of Boundary Way will have to live with for the rest of our lives. Please make the right decision."

Euan Barr, the trust’s head of new business, said the scheme represented the housing association’s commitment to regenerating the estate.

He said: "We have produced a scheme after much consultation, which we think enhances the estate and the affordable housing supply."

During the ensuing debate councillors said their site visit had shown them that the controversial aspects of the scheme were in the Three Rivers end of the estate.

Iain Sharpe, an Oxhey Liberal Democrat, said he was sympathetic to the residents’ worries but that Watford committee did not have grounds to turn the scheme down.

Park Lib Dem, George Derbyshire, said he also had sympathy with the residents’ concerns.

However he added: "I think on the whole, having looked at it, what is being proposed will be an improvement.

"If you look at the houses being proposed there is no doubt that the standard of housing will be significantly better than what was built in the 1970s."

In the end the eight councillor committee unanimously voted the scheme through.