PLANS to build 19 eco chalets and a clubhouse on a field have led to protests over possible noise problems.

Proposals to develop land at Escomb Pastures, at Etherley Dene, near to Bishop Auckland, have been lodged with Durham County Council.

Outline planning approval is being sought to build the chalets and clubhouse plus car parking and landscaping on the 2.29hectare site.

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The applicant, Haider Al Saffer, claims the scheme, dubbed The Hide, will have economic benefits, both in its development and its use.

Residents living nearby, however, fear that their lives will be blighted by noise problems from users of the site.

Councillor Sam Zair, who sits on both Bishop Auckland Town and Durham County councils, said: “People are not happy.

“Some people are very concerned about the plans and some residents on Dene Hall Drive, near the site, are up in arms about it.

“The site has always been open space and there is a public right of way across it. There are concerns that there will be public nuisance and noise issues.

“It will bring jobs and money into the area but you have to look at the quality of life of the people who will be living near to it.”

The scheme would see a mixture of one, two and four-bedroom wood chalets.

The clubhouse will be the central point of the site with facilities for visitors and the applicant hopes to enhance the local wildlife.

Access to the land will be from Bridge Road and cars will not drive round the site, but simply enter it to drop people off before they are parked up.

It is hoped it will increase footfall through Bishop Auckland’s businesses and also the nearby tourist attractions.

A spokesman for the applicant said: “The planning application seeks to provide a relaxing and peaceful environment for visitors to stay in the area.

“It is not intended that the proposals will result in unacceptable levels of noise or disturbance and the site will be managed accordingly.

“It is proposed that it will benefit the local economy, creating local jobs during construction and operation, and offer a highly sustainable form of visitor accommodation.”