A campaign group fighting to block a sports centre begged councillors to stop turning the area into an “urban development site”.

But developer Legal and General's proposals for a 'centre of sporting excellence' on green belt land in Rowley Lane, Borehamwood, were granted outline planning permission at Hertsmere Borough Council on Tuesday night.

Plans include a 450 bed hostel and hotel, a research laboratory and sport facilities.

READ MORE: 'It will become a concrete jungle'

In a statement, protest group People Against the Centre of Sporting Excellence (PACE) said after the meeting: “We are obviously very disappointed in the councillors of Hertsmere Borough Council and their choice to follow the money as opposed to doing what is right for the people and greenbelt land.

“However, now that this decision has been made, representatives from PACE look forward to working with the council and the developers on an independent committee in order to make sure certain restrictions are implemented accordingly.

“This is so the centre can be enjoyed by those that will benefit from it, while not vastly affecting the majority of local residents so clearly opposed to its decimation of greenbelt land previously marked as actually unsuitable by Hertsmere Borough Council for this development."

Speaking at the meeting, PACE member Rachel James said: “Borehamwood, once a pleasant village, is now little more than an urban development site.

“It has seen the loss of four green belt areas and only half of our green spaces are left.

“Criss-crossed by country lanes initially created for horses and carts, Well End is one of the last places left untouched.

“It is in the midst of greenbelt and was never meant to sustain a constant stream of modern day traffic.

“The traffic survey is flawed - Herts Highways called it woolly and said it lacks the certainty and commitment needed.”

She added that any suggestion that traffic will be reduced is “nonsense” as five entrances to the site will be created.

In her speech, she also pointed out how the habitat survey was “flawed” because it was carried out when bats were breeding and not feeding.

Labour councillor Richard Butler told the committee: “This will impact the immediate area and the whole of Borehamwood.

“You say it will create 800 new local jobs but that seems unlikely as they will be sport specialists from outside the local area.

“This area already suffers from gridlock. If it goes ahead traffic restrictions on lorries and coaches must be in place on Rowley Lane and must be enforced.”

Cllr John Galliers, who sits on the committee, said he could not agree with the plans because he felt the 450-room hotel and hostel, as well as the size of the business buildings, were “too big”.

Speaking at the meeting, Legal & General property manager Nick Baker said: “We think we’ve got the opportunity to create something quite unique.

“We think this because of the interest of the sporting communities over the last few years, expressed to us and Hertsmere."

Mr Baker stressed that building would take place in an area designated by Hertsmere Council for future release for employment.

He added: “We’ve tried to respect the green belt element by putting the playing fields there. I urge you to give us the opportunity to create something quite exciting.”

The application was approved with a 7:1 majority.