PARISH councillors have urged as many residents as possible to attend a meeting to discuss proposals that could change the future of their village.
Middleton St George Parish Council has put forward a bold, and potentially controversial, plan to guide development in the village in the face of a series of planning applications that could add hundreds of homes to the area.
The announcement of the proposals in last week’s Darlington and Stockton Times has led to huge discussion in the village and the parish council has asked everyone to come to the drop in session to see the plans in full detail before making their minds up.
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The proposals put forward by the parish council will form the basis of a neighbourhood development plan, a legally binding document that would prevent unwanted or unsuitable development in the village until 2025.
The proposals put forward by the parish council include:
• Using the playing field, off Station Road, to create a Neighbourhood Hub - a parade of single-storey shops, a medical centre with integrated pharmacy, parking and a play area;
• Allowing housing, in particular starter homes and bungalows for older people, to be built on unused land off Yarm Road, backing on to the railway line;
• Revitalising the recreational facilities in the Water Park to make it a place for people of all ages to spend time relaxing and exercising.
The drop in session will take place tomorrow between 10.30am and 3.30pm in St George’s Primary School, when parish councillors and planning consultants will be available to discuss the plans.
The parish council decided to produce the neighbourhood plan in response to a large number of outside developers looking to build hundreds of homes on greenfield sites around the village, which they say would overwhelm its already stretched resources.
A map showing the 'threat sites’, where developers have expressed an interest in building new homes, has been produced for the meeting.
If those proposals all went ahead, at least 800 homes would be added to the village.
Parish chairwoman Doris Jones said it was important that as many residents as possible attended the meeting tomorrow to put their views across.
She said she wanted it to be made clear that the parish had no intention to remove the play area in the centre of the village entirely, but that building on some of the field would allow the parish council to install better, more modern, play equipment, as well as improving facilities and services for the whole village.
She added: “We will have boards showing every element of what we are proposing and a video explaining how these proposals came about.
“Residents with concerns about housing developments on greenfield sites need to come to the meeting, as do those with concerns about what we are proposing.
“These developers want apathy – if we do nothing, they can swoop in and surround us and build hundreds of homes on top of us.”