A GROUP of parents have insisted they will fight proposals to develop shops and a medical centre on their village playing field, following a heated public consultation meeting.

Police were called to defuse an angry situation at a drop-in meeting held in Middleton St George as tempers flared over proposals from the parish council.

A number of residents were particularly upset over the possibility of the loss of the playing field, which they say is a well used facility and vital to the village.

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One man, who children have used the playing field for several years, described the plans as ‘lunacy’ and said there were plenty of other places in the village for a medical centre to be built.

Parish chairwoman Doris Jones said “one or two” people at the meeting had behaved in a “yobbish” fashion, but that it would not stop the parish council coming up with a development plan that would benefit the whole village.

The parish council has been working on a legal document, a neighbourhood plan, which outlines acceptable development in the village up to 2025, in the hope of preventing large housing estates being built on local greenfield sites.

The drop-in session on Saturday was the first time the village had been given the chance to see the proposals in full and was intended to give people the opportunity to give their views, positive and negative, on the ideas.

The key element of the proposal is to use part of the playing field to build shops and a medical centre with associated parking, while retaining the play equipment.

Colin Brown, who lives close to the playing field, said a lot of people were upset at the thought of losing the playing field to any type of building.

He said: “This is the last piece of green space in the village. Someone said the field is not well used, but after school and on a weekend it’s full of kids. We don’t need any more shops.

“If we do need a medical centre, why can’t it be built somewhere else? This wouldn’t happen in Hurworth or Sadberge.”

Morris Dulston, who also lives close to the playing field, added: “This village should remain a village with village green. Parades of shops in other places mean anti-social behaviour.”

Councillor Jones said she could understand parents being worried about the loss of the playing field and added: “It is their right to protest that, but the whole point of the meeting was to enable us to consult with residents and hear their views.

“All they had to do was come in, look at the options and give their response but some just wanted to stand and fight. We will not be bullied or kow-towed by the actions of a small minority, we will do what is right for this village.”

Asked if the parish council would press ahead with the proposals, she said: “We will look at the consultation responses and see what people had to say. We won’t be put off by bad behaviour, we will take all views into consideration when we update the plan.”