PLANS to build 28 homes for older people on land on the edge of a village in north Durham countryside have been rejected by councillors.

Holmside Developments had applied for planning permission to develop the land to the north of St Johns Mews, in Burnhope.

But Durham County Council’s senior planning officer, Steve France, said the scheme to create homes for people over 55 would be an “unacceptable encroachment into the countryside”.

He advised councillors to turn down the application, which he said, did not have enough detail.

Mr France said: “The proposals represent an unacceptable encroachment into the countryside and does not maintain or enhance landscape character, compromising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside.

“In the absence of agreement on an acceptable basic layout, the suggested approach defers too much information until after the planning decision.

“This is a general weakness of the whole application, but critical to drainage and highways issues.”

There were objections from 14 properties, with road safety and drainage concerns among the issues raised.

Richard Kerr, who spoke on behalf of residents of St John’s Mews opposed to the scheme, said: “There is simply no need for this development.

“Other land is properly accessible within the Burnhope area. This is a landlocked site with safety and access issues on St John’s Mews and it is very difficult for residents to currently enter and exit dues to poor visibility, adverse cambers and the 90 degree blind bend corner.

“Another 28 houses, 40 residents, 30 vehicles, visitors, mobility scooters, children, OAPS, delivery vans equals high accident risk.”

Planning agent Glenn McGill, speaking on behalf of Holmside Developments, said the style of housing proposed was in high demand and short supply.

He said: “There is a commitment to resolve any drainage and highway adoption issues to benefit existing residents and proposed new occupiers.”

But the plan was rejected by members of the north areas planning committee unanimously.

Councillor Alan Shield said: “I am saddened because I do acknowledge, as I think we all do, that there is a social need for bungalows but what has been outlined is that this does not meet the principals of a planning application.

“We have to comply with those principals.”