A CONTROVERSIAL application for a housing estate on the edge of a Darlington village has been turned down by planning officers on the grounds that it could ruin the character of the area.

The application to build 76 homes on a greenfield site in Middleton Lane, Middleton St George, sparked concern among village residents, who feared it would open the floodgates to more development and put a strain on local amenities.

More than 150 objections were submitted to Darlington Borough Council’s planning department, as well as a petition that gathered hundreds of signatures against the development.

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Developer Gentoo had been looking to build a mix of detached and semi-detached family homes on the site, which lies between Middleton St George and Middleton One Row.

Planning officers at the council used delegated powers to refuse the application, without it going to a formal committee hearing. The developer has the right to appeal the decision to the planning inspectorate.

In a report explaining the delegated decision, planning officers noted a number of reasons for refusal:

  • The proposed site is outside the development limits for the village, which could threaten its character and the appearance of the countryside
  • The proposal would generate additional impacts on local infrastructure, particularly the village primary school and doctors surgery, the road network and public transport
  • A large number of trees, including some covered by Tree Preservation Orders, would need to be cut down at the site.

The decision has been welcomed by Councillors Doris Jones and Steve York, who represent the village at Darlington Borough Council, although both recognised that the developer is entitled to appeal.

The parish council agreed last week to increase the precept by almost £10 for a Band D property next year to raise £12,000 to create a Neighbourhood Plan, which will give the village a say on future developments.

Coun Jones said: “We are delighted, but we feel it’s only a small breather. It gives us time to prepare for the appeal and work on our Neighbourhood Plan.

“We might have won the battle, but we are a long way from winning the war.”