A COUPLE who bought a corner of a farmer’s field to plant an orchard have been refused permission to change its use.

Mr and Mrs Maclure, from Coxhoe, had already put up a fence and removed an ancient hedge as part of the development.

They made a retrospective planning permission to change the use of the land from agricultural to residential curtilage but it was rejected by members of Durham County Council’s central and east planning committee.

Neighbours in Doulton Court had objected to the plans, which would involve re-routing a public footpath, because they feared a loss of privacy and increased access to the rear of their homes.

Councillor Ivan Jewell said: “This is part of a disturbing and growing trend where people seem to think they can go and make changes on a whim without getting permission.

“I think if we let it go, it gives the wrong message.”