A FORMER dairy site which had been earmarked for a £12.5m business park could instead become a housing estate.

The Stonebridge dairy site, near Neville’s Cross, Durham, has stood empty since the Express Dairy, which closed in 2006, was demolished around 2008.

In 2008, developers Helios City won planning permission to build a business park, with 6,200sq metres of office space.

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However, the development never went ahead and the site has become an eyesore off the A690.

Now Gentoo, the Sunderland-based housing group, has applied for consent to build 29 homes on the site.

The estate would include two five two-bedroom homes, 11 with three bedrooms and 13 with four. Of these, six would be classed as “affordable”.

They would be built in a U-shape parallel to the A690, with most accessed from an estate road off Dairy Lane but also some facing Dairy Lane itself.

The plot has been identified as suitable and available for housing by Durham County Council and Gentoo says the brownfield site has good transport links and views of open fields.

In a supporting statement, the firm says: “The design of the scheme has been carefully considered to take into account the site features, surrounding area and local setting and aims to create a strong sense of place in line with local policy.

“The scheme makes efficient use of the site while being at a density low enough to respect the character of the area and protect existing residential amenity whilst meeting housing need in the area by providing a range of housing in terms of size, type and tenure.”

However, there are concerns about the development’s impact on traffic.

Michael Leonard, of nearby Creamery Cottages, said getting onto the A690 would be “almost impossible” and suggested building a mini-roundabout at either end of Dairy Lane.

The scheme is expected to go before a Durham County Council planning committee in the next few months.

Gentoo is already working on the site, building a new £2m headquarters for the Church of England’s Durham Diocese.