IT was a protest with a difference when hundreds of people descended on a Darlington field on Sunday.

Instead of wielding placards, protesters at Bellburn Field were equipped with rounders bats, picnic baskets and footballs.

In a bid to oppose council housing plans, and demonstrate how well the green space is used by local people, an afternoon of family fun was held on the site.

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The fun day was organised by residents who have pledged to fight Darlington Borough Council every step of the way over plans to build 50 new homes on a field they say is constantly used for recreational purposes.

Hordes of visitors enjoyed traditional activities like rounders, football and picnics throughout the afternoon in an attempt to show the council the ways in which local people enjoy the site, which is situated close to Bellburn Lane, off Brinkburn Road.

Jools Aspinall has lived close to the field for ten years and says it plays a central part in the lives of all residents.

She said: “The fun day was just lovely and a real success.

“We are trying to stop any building work on the site as, in order to build on it, the council needs to prove that the land is surplus to requirements.

“With the fun day, we proved it is not. It is the only green space that we have – other green spaces in the area are not safe for children or are too far away to service this community properly.

“This field services it perfectly, it’s like our village green and that’s what we wanted to show.

“Everything that went on at the event goes on there day in and day out, we just arranged it on a larger scale.

“We want the council to understand the field is not surplus to requirements and we need it.”

A consultation event will be held concerning the development at St Mary’s Community Centre in Cockerton on Wednesday, June 18 from 4.30pm.

Ms Aspinall urged concerned residents to attend. She said: “People should understand that in order to have their voices heard they need to use all the mediums available.

“Hopefully the meeting won’t turn into a shouting match, though it’s difficult when people are extremely passionate and emotions are running high.”