PROPOSALS for a major housing development on edge of a rural settlement have come under fire from residents who say it would the double size of their community.

Residents of Parkhill, between Coxhoe and Bowburn, near Durham City, have vowed to fight plans unveiled by Sheffield-based Hallam Land Management for about 190 homes. The campaign group Parkhill Neighbours, set up to fight the plans, has already attracted more than 60 members.

Parkhill Neighbours spokesman Frank Salisbury said: “Durham County Council has designated the site as being unsuitable for housing development, but that does not prevent a development being granted permission.

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“Interest to develop the site has been sold to Hallam and they are determined to foist the housing estate on us.

“A previous developer had proposed 400 homes on the site. Hallam has now unveiled plans for a reduced number of houses of nearly 200.

“But the number is academic, because when and if they get permission for those they’ll put in an application for another 200 homes.”

Mr Salisbury said the pre-submission plans had been presented to members of the Cassop-cum-Quarrington Parish Council. He said: “The residents of Parkhill are just as entitled to live in an environment surrounded by green fields as are the directors and owners of the development and planning companies seeking to saddle us with yet another housing estate.

“This development will seriously affect local environmental and double the size of our settlement.

“Developers are saying it is part of Coxhoe, but it is not. Parkhill is a discreet settlement and in another parish as well.”

He added: “They are arguing the county council is going to miss its target for houses and they believe building on site will help meet its target for houses.

“I have done background research and know the county will meet its five year and 25 year target.”

Mr Salisbury said the developers had sought to have the site allocated for housing in the county council’s emerging local plan, but after a full site assessment the site had been deemed unsuitable by planning officers.

Planning officers said the site would “represent a significant incursion into the open countryside that would be out of character with the settlement form and size” and the impact on the landscape would be “significantly adverse”.

The company is staging a exhibition and consulation exercise at Coxhoe Village Hall from 4pm to 7pm on Wednesday, March 19.

Hallam Land Management has declined to comment.