A RESIDENTS' campaign to save a 'beloved' piece of woodland is gaining momentum.

Locals from Norton village, near Stockton, banded together after a planning application was submitted by developer McCarthy and Stone.

The application outlines a section of wooded land behind the village's high street and proposes to develop it for retirement housing consisting of 47 apartments.

So far, the application has received 91 objections with concerns such as loss of habitat, underground springs and potential flooding, pressure on the village's infrastructure and its proximity to neighbouring gardens.

A campaign group has been formed in response to the application, called Save the Last Norton Wood, and its members say they are taking all the steps they can to protect the space.

Group member Linda Ward said: "It's a beautiful public footpath with the most incredible trees and wildlife.

"It’s very wild and green and people often walk their dogs there.

"The development would mean the destruction of these woods and the lives of all this wildlife which shouldn't we be protecting in the current climate?

"The woods aren't on my doorstep but it is in my village. It’s like a secret garden in Norton and I have really surprised myself with how saddened I feel about it."

Save the Last Norton Wood, which has 106 members online, have created social media channels to highlight their campaign, are distributing leaflets in the area and have started a petition which, if it gets 1,000 signatures, will be passed to the council for consideration.

The Northern Echo:

The group also fundraised to instruct a solicitor to consult the application and have been in touch with MP Alex Cunningham who has echoed resident's concerns.

Jim Brooks, North-East Regional Managing Director for McCarthy and Stone said: “We have recognised the concerns of the local residents and are currently awaiting the Council’s feedback on whether any revisions to the scheme are required. We plan to update residents as soon as we have this information.

"We have also recently received an independent needs report that has found that the older population in Stockton-on-Tees will increase by around thirty-six percent by 2035. The report also found that the provision of specialised housing for older people in the area is significantly below the national average.

"Our development proposed for Norton will go some way to relieving pressure of demand on retirement accommodation in the area, whilst at the same time allowing homeowners to maintain their independence in later life.

"McCarthy and Stone developments also help to unlock the housing chain and free up larger homes for families”

The campaign can be found on Facebook and Twitter at 'Save The Last Norton Wood'.