Legoland seems to have won the fight to create its own 'new township' on the outskirts of Windsor.

Royal Borough planning councillors gave cautious permission on Wednesday to the theme park's plan to build 450 new lodges for overnight visitors on Green Belt land on its Winkfield Road premises, complete with facilities 'hub' and play area.

Things went Legoland's way despite a plea by resident Philip Robson, of St Leonard's Hill, who appealed to councillors to block the plan - which he described as 'nothing less than an enormous sprawling hotel covering up an enormous amount of Green Belt'.

He said: "This will create a huge township on the edge of Windsor and in so doing will rob us of our open countryside'.

Royal Borough officers had recommended that councillors say no to the plan, on the grounds that the plan would harm the Green Belt and lead to the loss of mature trees.

Councillors agonised for over an hour and a half at the meeting of the Borough Wide Development Management Panel held in Windsor Guildhall. But in the end they went against officers' advice and came down on Legoland's side.

Deputy council leader Phill Bicknell, who represents Park ward and is cabinet member for highways and Windsor, warned at the start it would have to be a complicated decision with economic concerns weighed against conservation ones.

Cllr Leo Walters who represents Holyport and Bray said: "Economics always seems to win, it is a shame. I wonder what sort of message this gives out to the people of Windsor. They will think we just don't care about the Green Belt."

Cllr Jesse Grey insisted that councillors did care about the Green Belt. But he warned that with 80 per cent of the borough designated as Green Belt some encroachment was inevitable.

Cllr Dee Quick - the Royal Borough deputy mayor - echoed his view. She proposed that councillors delegate responsibility to officers to negotiate conditions and legal agreements with Legoland that would allow the new lodges, while protecting maturer trees on the site as much as possible.

This was accepted by 11 votes to two with two abstentions - although it will come back to councillors for further discussion if this is not agreed within two months.