CONCERNED residents have hit out against proposals to build 13 new homes near Bishop Auckland.

More than sixty comments have been posted on the online planning application, the majority objecting to the development.

The applicant, Hazel Kellett, wants to build a mixture of terraced and detached houses on land south of Etherley Road, in Low Etherley.

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This is Ms Kellett’s second application to build on the land, the first, for 21 houses, was withdrawn in April of this year.

One resident, of Tree Tops, Low Etherley, said: “I strongly object to this application as I did to the recent previous application for 21 dwellings.

“My objections are on the same grounds, increased traffic and parking on an already busy road, increased risk and occurrence of flooding, and the new properties will also block the outlook and view of the existing and long established properties on the opposite side of the road.”

Another resident, also of Low Etherley, added: “It is very clear to see that the new proposed development is almost a dissection of the proposed plan in March or April.

“It’s obvious that should this planning application be approved, it would be sharply followed by another to develop the rest of the field. This will enable the initial application to be approved and a complete deception of officials and residents.”

In documents submitted with the application, it states that a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment carried out by Durham County Council (DCC) in 2012 considered the area potentially unsuitable for housing development.

However, some residents claim that a later assessment in 2013 identified the land as unsuitable for any housing development.

A resident in favour of the plans said: “The land in question is an ideal site for development as it can only enhance the village of Low Etherley which has been subject to some incongruous development over recent years.

“The proposed development will provide much needed local housing and bring jobs to the area during construction and after occupation, bringing confirmation that Low Etherley is a most desirable place to live. I strongly support the application.”

Tony Armstrong, on behalf of the applicant, said: “The proposed development will make a small but significant positive contribution to the future vitality and well-being of the Etherley and Toft Hill villages.

“It is in a sustainable location and the outlined design and layout are entirely in keeping with the character and nature of the setting.”

The consultation period has now lapsed and DCC’s Planning Committee will make a decision later in the year.