DEVELOPERS have been granted outline permission to build 49 homes on the edge of a housing estate, just months after a larger application was refused.

A proposal to build 54 homes on land between Willowtree Avenue and Belmont Road, in Gilesgate Moor, Durham City was refused last October, despite a recommendation from Durham County Council planning officials that the development be given the go-ahead.

Developers have lodged an appeal against that decision, with a ruling expected within the next month, but have since returned with a smaller application for 49 houses.

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Members of the authority’s Area Planning Committee (Central and East) voted this afternoon (TUES) to grant outline planning permission for the smaller scheme, despite continued opposition from Belmont Parish Council and residents of the neighbouring High Grange Estate.

Objectors raised concerns about increased traffic flows on junctions off the already busy Belmont Road if the proposal was approved.

Coun Barbara Howarth, chair of the parish council’s planning committee, said: "This application is for only five fewer homes than last time.

"As a council we’re still very concerned about the proposal to build on a greenfield site. It would mean the irreversible loss of a wildlife corridor.

"But by far the most adverse impact is the generation of increased traffic in an area which is already congested.

"By far our most significant concern is the traffic, which we think could be very dangerous indeed.

Fourteen neighbours objected to the initial scheme and a further ten letters were submitted ahead of today’s committee meeting at County Hall.

Resident Tina Merton-Smith told the committee that various housing applications for the 3.7-hectare site had been refused four times since 1973 and another twice on appeal.

She said: "The residents of High Grange Estate still object in the strongest possible terms to the development which threatens their quality of life and their safety."

However, planning officers again recommended the application for approval.

A spokesman for the developers told members: "We have reduced the number of houses, we have re-jigged the roadway and the application is totally acceptable in terms of highways and planning policy."

A motion to refuse the application proposed by Coun Patrick Conway was defeated and the committee granted conditional planning approval by eight votes to three.