PROTESTORS have launched a campaign to stave off a developer which is eyeing up fields on the edge of their town for houses and a shop.

Cumbria-based Story Homes wants to build 200 houses and a 1,600 sq m food store on land to the south of Ferryhill.

The land, behind Dean Road and Southside, is currently agricultural fields and has been identified as a potential site for housing in the County Durham Plan, which sets out new development across the county.

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But some residents of Ferryhill plan to fight the proposal with a petition and objections if and when a planning application is made to Durham County Council.

Last year, during consultation for the county plan, Ferryhill Community Partnership objected to any building on green spaces.

It urged the county council to insist all brownfield or previously developed sites are built on and empty properties upgraded and brought back into use instead.

Partnership chairman, Dave Farry, said: “The Durham County Plan, as agreed by the Labour-controlled council last year, identifies 300 new homes for Ferryhill.

“With outline planning permission for nearly 400 already we’ve already exceeded that allocation.

“On top of that there are over 120 void properties in Dean Bank alone.

“Ferryhill does not need all these new homes and certainly doesn’t want them on green land.”

Ferryhill town councillor Brian Gibson added: “We’ve seen other parts of Ferryhill developed and do no good for the town, we’ll end up with beautiful houses all around it while the centre deteriorates.”

Linda Foster, of South View, is against the scheme, fearing the loss of the view, which includes the Cleveland Hills, the impact of construction work and extra traffic generated by new homes.

Other objectors feel the proposed shop would be too small to boost the town’s retail and jobs offer, the fields should be protected and reducing the gap between Ferryhill and Chilton threatens its identity.

Ferryhill Community Partnership will hold a public meeting at The Eldon Arms tomorrow (Thursday May 22) at 6pm, to plan a collective response based on feedback.

Planning consultants Signet Planning will reveal more details of Story Homes’ proposal and gather local views at a public consultation event on Friday, May 23.

The drop-in event will be at Dean Bank and Ferryhill Literary Institute, St Cuthbert’s Terrace, from 2pm to 6.30pm.