WORK on a housing development has been stopped after angry residents highlighted a “planning bungle” over elevations which resulted in new bungalows towering over their homes.

Karbon Homes and Swale Valley Construction were granted planning permission by Durham County Council for 16 homes on the site of the former Ouston Infant School in Ouston, near Chester-le-Street.

Residents had not objected to the development on the understanding only bungalows would be built and they would not intrude on their privacy.

But they were were shocked to see the development taking shape six feet above the former ground level, after the school site had been levelled.

North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who along with ward councillors Alison Batey, Danny Wood and Colin Carr has intervened, said: “Residents are quite rightly angry that a huge mistake has been made and developers and the council now need to put this right before any further development takes place on this site."

Cllr Wood said: “I feel let down, as do the residents, at the way this has gone through. Residents were never consulted about the land been levelled out and raised in the way it was.”

Cllr Batey added: “They need to go back to the original levels that were there before they levelled the land.

“It is a huge coup to secure housing for County Durham, we want them to be built in a way that is sympathetic to surrounding properties.”

Resident Gemma Poole said: “We were fairly happy with this as we thought it would fit in with the area.

“As building progressed, it came to light that the land has been built up over 6ft above the original height, so the bungalows are now the height of two-story houses, and are overlooking my children’s bedroom windows.”

Resident Craig Donnelly: “They have made a huge mistake. They should stop building and start from scratch.”

Council officers have spoken with developers and building has been halted for the plans to be reviewed.

Zoey Hawthorne, assistant director of development delivery, said: “We are working closely with our colleagues at Durham County Council (DCC) to try to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.

“Although our initial plans were fully approved, we appreciate that aspects of this development have clearly caused concern for the residents of Ouston.

“We have liaised with the DCC planning department and have since submitted a revised planning application. We will ensure our development is completed in line with planning guidance, and with proper regard for the neighbouring residents.”

DCC head of planning and assets, Stuart Timmiss. said: “We were contacted by residents who were concerned about the height of some of the homes being built. While they were being developed in accordance with the approved planning application, we raised the comments received with Karbon Homes and it was agreed that the scheme would be reviewed.

“The company has stopped work on part of the site and submitted an amended planning application for these properties which we will be considering in due course.”