RESIDENTS seeking to protect greenfield land from developers in Ferryhill have called on the parish council to back their campaign.

Up to 30 residents protested outside of the Ferryhill Town Council this week as they demanded support from the councillors.

Groups including Ferryhill Community Partnership fear developers will ignore brownfield plots, or already developed land, when they seek to build.

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Their concerns include agricultural fields behind Dean Road and Southside, which have been identified by Durham County Council as a possible option for new houses.

The land is listed in the council’s County Durham Plan and Cumbria-based Story Homes wants to use it to build 200 houses and a 1,600sqm food store.

Former town councillor Kevin Storey said: “Greenfield sites are everyone’s heritage and we have to protect them so that people can enjoy them.

“Over the last 150 years Ferryhill has contributed its share with coal mining and mineral extraction and what’s left should be preserved and protected.”

The community partnership last year objected to any building on green spaces in Ferryhill.

Instead it wanted the county council to insist that all brownfield sites were built on and that empty properties were brought into use first.

Dave Farry, chairman of the community partnership, said: “There is a very strong feeling against development on greenfield land in Ferryhill.

“The County Durham Plan has identified a need for 300 new homes in Ferryhill but there is already outline planning approval for nearly 400.

“There is also over 120 houses empty in Dean Bank too so we don’t need any more properties.

“I feel that the residents have not been consulted and I think that to develop on greenfield areas in Ferryhill would be detrimental.”

The residents asked questions at this week’s council meeting regarding the Greenfield issue.

Paul Shackleton, of Dean Road Residents’ Association, added: “Are the council prepared to support the people of Ferryhill.

“Will they agree to refuse any plans both now and in the future which want to build on greenfield land when brownfield land is available.

“We want the town council to support us by putting forward to the county council a management plan to regulate green belt development.”

Speaking at the meeting Ferryhill Town Council clerk, Derek Snowball said: “We are here to represent the whole of Ferryhill and its people. Until we know what the whole of Ferryhill wants it would be unwise to limit ourselves to what a small number of people want.”