PLANS to create up to 145 new homes on the outskirts of a village have prompted concerns about traffic, loss of fields and increased pressure on schools and other amenities.

Apex Architectural Planning has applied for outline planning permission to build the properties on fields next to Vicarage Close and Hargill Road, in Howden-le-Wear, near Crook.

However, many residents are strongly opposed to the scheme which they believe will turn Howden-le-Wear into a “soulless village.”

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A Facebook page called Howden Says No to Green Belt Housing has attracted 133 likes and on Wednesday, September 10, from 5pm to 7pm, a meeting will be held in the community centre for villagers to write letters of objection.

At a previous public meeting, organised by the developer, residents raised a range of concerns, including the devaluation of existing properties, the lack of job opportunities to support the development, insufficient drainage and the loss of countryside views and fields.

On Durham County Council’s website the application has attracted one letter of objection from a villager who questions the need for the homes, pointing out that around 40 houses are already up for sale in the village.

Apex Architecture Planning hopes to build a combination of two, three, four and five-bedroom properties up to two storeys in height.

In a document submitted with the application, planning agent, Prism Planning, stated: “The proposed development will be compatible with the site’s surroundings; will not adversely affect the character and appearance of Howden-le-Wear; has regard to the local environment with reference to design and scale; and will be accessible and inclusive.”

The agent said the applicant has gone to considerable lengths to involve the community and had amended the application in response to feedback.

In response to traffic fears, it referred to the findings of a Highways engineer who concluded the development could be accommodated.

It also highlighted how an experienced estate agent believed there would be significant interest in the properties and said school and GP capacity could be extended if necessary.

Flood risk, meanwhile, was not at an unacceptable level and there was no evidence, it argued, that the development would devalue other homes or endanger protected species.

Residents can comment on the application at until Friday, September 19.