A DEVELOPER is “riding roughshod” over local people by trying to get a further 550 homes approved on green fields, a planning inquiry heard yesterday.

Tiviot Way Investments and developers Satnam want to build the homes on fields next to a planned new free school in Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton.

Planning permission was refused by Stockton Borough Council earlier this year on the basis it was “green wedge” land and provided a border between Ingleby and neighbouring Thornaby.

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Developers asked the Secretary of State for Communities, Eric Pickles, for a planning appeal and he agreed.

Jersey-based Tiviot has already won one planning appeal for the free school itself and an associated 350 homes.

It recently applied for planning permission from Stockton Borough Council for a further 70 homes, reducing the potential size of the playing fields at the new Ingleby Manor Free School, which has not yet been built.

Councillor David Rose, who sits on Stockton Borough Council’s planning committee, told the inquiry, at Stockton's Baptist Tabernacle, said: “It is very disappointing the developer has put forward again to appeal this application which is contrary to green wedge and local policy and yet still comes here trying to use the national planning policy framework to ride roughshod over local people’s issues.”

The council’s main argument for its planning committee unanimously rejecting the plans was that the land was green wedge, for highway safety reasons, that it would have a negative effect on biodiversity and the quality of the environment, and archaeological features on the site.

During three hours of cross examination by Tiviot’s barrister Coun Rose defended the importance of the green wedge and the biodiversity of the area.

Christopher Lockhart-Mummery, representing Tiviot, told the hearing: “The proposals plainly comply with a number of the development plan policies.

“The proposals constitute sustainable development. They will provide the significant benefits of the provision of market and affordable housing.

“The benefits demonstrably outweigh any adverse impacts.”

The site is believed to be of archaeological interest, possibly with prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon remains, and this was another reason for Stockton council’s refusal to approve the plan.

Both Stockton South MP James Wharton and his rival, Labour candidate Louise Baldock, have said they are opposed to the plans for the 550 homes.

Ms Baldock was at the hearing yesterday to speak out against the development.

Another application, also for 550 homes, by Prism Planning, has been submitted to the authority.

The planning inquiry continues today and is expected to conclude tomorrow.