A NORTH-EAST airport has acknowledged that it would have to pay for extra local school places if it went ahead with a 400-home housing estate.

Members of the Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) consultative committee broadly backed a draft master plan, which aims to secure the airport’s long-term future, when they met on Wednesday.

However, members of the committee repeated concerns that a proposed housing estate of up to 400 homes would put a strain on local services, including education and health provision.

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The master plan proposes the sale of land beside the airport to raise money to make the airport viable, including the building of new hangars.

But Doris Jones, Darlington Borough Council member for Middleton St George, told the meeting: “It’s okay for the airport to survive but how do we survive?

“Is this really the only way that the airport can survive – by putting 400 extra houses in our ward?

“What will be the next piece of land being sold until we have Durham Tees Valley housing estate?

Residents of Middleton St George say the village school and GP practice are both full.

Coun Jones said the village was raising £15,000 to hire planning consultants to examine the airport proposal and other plans for housing developments in the village.

“As a parish council it’s breaking us,” she added.

In response, Peter Nears, the airport's strategic planning director and author of the DTVA Master Plan 2020 and Beyond, said he accepted that the extra homes would put pressure on local schools.

He added: “I’m open to the principle that there will be a contribution to education provision in Middleton St George.”

He added that discussions would take place with Darlington Borough Council and the Middleton St George Parish Council if a planning application for the homes was submitted.

He added that the link between pressure on health services and extra homes was “less clear”.

The consultation process for the master plan ends on Friday, January 10.

Responses from local residents, businesses and statutory consultees would be examined, before being added to the master plan, Mr Nears said.