PLANS for a major new housing development on the edge of an east Durham town have been met with overwhelming opposition from residents of a neighbouring village who fear they will be swallowed up in an urban sprawl.

Newcastle-based Bellway Homes has unveiled plans for 135 homes on an agricultural field bordering the existing Dalton Heights Estate, to the south of Seaham.

But residents in neighbouring Dalton-le-Dale, who have formed an action group to oppose the plans development, say their village would lose its distinct identity and be joined to Seaham.

They, along with residents of Dalton Heights, have also raised concerns about flooding and highway safety on the B1285, leading to the A19.

In a planning application to Durham County Council, the developer’s agents Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners say the development would provide a new sustainable residential neighbourhood that would help meet identified needs for housing needs in Seaham.

They add, there would be provision for ten per cent affordable housing- either onsite, or as an off-site contribution. In addition, it would provide 78 jobs during year of construction and generate £1.2m of spending in the local area.

Stan Cudlip of the Dalton-le-Dale action group said: “There is a massive opposition throughout the parish.

“A special meeting by the parish council was attended by 40 people - the largest number of people that have ever attended one here.”

Mr Cudlip said an earlier application by Bellway Homes for a smaller number of 80 homes was rejected in 1998 and was turned down on appeal by a Government inspector.

He said: “The inspector ruled the proposal would be both harmful in terms of visual amenity and character of the area and also have an adverse effect on the housing delivery for the town of Seaham.

“In addition, he said that it would inappropriately extend the urban fringe of the town of Seaham (south) to such a significant extent that it would result in the village of Dalton-le-Dale losing its identity and becoming part of Seaham.”

He added, the village had a long history of extensive flooding and the proposed means of draining surface water from new development would compound the problem.

There was also major concern about road safety issues.

“The proposed entrance would be somewhere near a mid-point of the extremely steep Times Inn bank on the B1285," he said.

“It has been closed at times in the winter because of ice and there have been a number of serious accidents on the road.”

Bellway Homes declined to comment.