LOSS-making Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) will today (Thursday) unveil plans to protect vital air links by building up to 400 houses on the site.

Airport bosses say the sale of land for housing would fund the redevelopment of the terminal building, and pay for new aircraft hangars, warehouses and offices.

DTVA chiefs hope the rent from the expansion of the Northside Employment Park would return the business to profit after a £4m loss last year and secure the future of daily flights to Aberdeen and Amsterdam.

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However, the new housing is likely to prove controversial, with community leaders in nearby Middleton St George warning that local amenities - including the village school and GO surgery – would not cope with the extra users.

The DTVA master plan, which goes out for a two-month consultation today, aims to “re-position” the airport with a focus on business passengers and more income from aviation-related business based at the site.

It is hoped the plan would also help to attract Government funding for the long-awaited Southside Employment Park, ultimately creating up to 3,800 jobs and adding almost £350m to the region’s economy.