A DEVELOPER has been asked to put £175,000 towards upgrading a village GP surgery to cater for the increased population if plans for 65 new houses are approved.

The doctor’s surgery in West Rainton had expressed concerns about its ability to provide care for the additional people living in the village if a proposed development in Benridge Bank goes ahead.

Avant Homes wants to build the houses on a 2.7 hectare piece of land close to the A690.

It says the scheme will provide high quality family housing and will respect the character of the surrounding area.

When it announced the plans last year, dozens of people attended a public exhibition to look at the proposals, with many residents voicing concerns about the size of the development, the impact on school and medical services and road safety at the village’s junctions with the A690.

In response, the developer has agreed an improvement scheme at the A690/Benridge Bank and A690/Chantry Place junctions and will also put forward funds for other improvements for services in the village.

A decision on whether the scheme can go ahead is due to be made of members of Durham County Council’s central and east planning committee next week.

Planners from the authority have recommended it is approved, as long as the developers pay to make improvements in the village.

Among their recommendations is for £175,000 to go to improve healthcare provision, £130,752 to provide extra teaching space at Belmont Community School. £6,000 for public transport infrastructure, £50,000 for community schemes and £122,460 to improve open space in the area.

The North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group, responsible for planning GP services, had asked for the developer to contribute to an expansion to the surgery because its says the village is in need of more facilities.

Plans had been drawn up for a £213,000 expansion but have not gone ahead because it was not affordable.

Avant Homes says the development will generate a “significant” number of construction jobs and will provide 13 affordable dwellings.