A CONTROVERSIAL plan to create a car park behind a pub has been rejected after councillors heard a host of objections from one of South Stockton’s leading business and restaurateur families.

However Stockton Borough Council’s planning committee approved a separate application for another, 38-place, long-stay car park behind Barclays Bank on Yarm High Street.

Stockton council has promised to create more long-stay car parks after forcing through pay and display parking on the popular High Street.

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But there were a host of objections to the application for a 40-place car park behind the Blue Bell pub on the Eaglescliffe side of the Tees, despite planning officers recommending it for approval.

The Emadi family, who own the lease for the Blue Bell and believe access to the car park would have to go through their land, objected to the scheme.

Mr Mamad Emadi, head of the Iranian-descent family who own Yarm’s Purple Pig and Da Vinci restaurants and employ about 50 people in the town, spoke at the committee meeting held at Stockton Central Library on Wednesday.

He argued that two previous applications to create a car park on the land had been turned down and nothing had changed since. He said the plans were inaccurate and in fact access to the car park would involve cutting through his land. The applicants were involved in a nearby housing development and had promised the council £280,000 to improve car parking, meaning the council had an interest in approving the scheme. He said: “The motto of this council is to be transparent, but this hasn’t been.”

Cllr Andrew Sherris, on the planning committee, agreed with him, saying: “This application has been shrouded in secrecy...there’s a perception that there’s an ulterior motive.”

Other councillors went on to raise road safety concerns, especially as many cars would have to make a right-hand turn on to the busy Yarm Road at peak times.

Cllr Norma Stephenson established that the applicants, Southland Management, working for Bellway Homes, actually owned most of the land in the area, although the Emadis believe any car park would involve incursions on their land. Cllr Stephenson picked up on criticisms of officers made by Mr Emadi. She said: “Allegations have been made that our officers are incompetent or in collusion with the applicant...is anything being done about that?”

Julie Butcher, principle solicitor, at the council said: “I have replied to Mr Emadi. Officers may feel they need to take further legal advice if it continues.”

Eventually the council voted against the car park by 11 votes to one, citing road safety and environmental issues. Outside the meeting Yarm councillor, Mark Chatburn, welcomed the result. He explained there were fears the development and a proposed access road to provide a replacement boat storage building for the sea scouts, could eventually open up the north bank of the Tees for housing development.

The other plan to build 38 car parking spaces on land behind Barclays Bank, off Silver Street in Yarm was passed unanimously.