PLANNERS have unanimously rejected proposals put forward by ex-Darlington chairman, George Reynolds, weeks after he was convicted of harassing a councillor.

The proposals to create 10 holiday lodges on a site north west of the A68, at Toft Hill, were submitted by Reynolds at a planning meeting at County Hall, in Durham, yesterday.

But the plans were rejected by councillors who followed their planning officer’s recommendation.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Reynolds said: “I’ve built a lot of big developments in the north of England but I’ve never had so many problems. The development has been nothing but a ball ache from start to finish.

“To be quite honest I’m not happy with the situation at all. I’ve been right from day one. I’ve done some big developments as you probably know and I’ve never had so much carry on.

“I know today I’ve come here for nothing because it is going to be refused.”

Earlier this month, the 83-year-old stood trial at Teesside Magistrates’ Court in Middlesbrough for one charge of harassment without violence towards Durham County Councillor Heather Smith.

Cllr Smith had previously objected to the planning application submitted by Reynolds to build the holiday pods.

After his conviction, District Judge, Timothy Capstick fined Reynolds £600 and ordered him to pay £620 costs.

Cllr Smith, who attended the planning meeting to object to the plans, said: “There are 12 public comments on the planning website all objecting to the development. Other residents in the community have told me they have wished to make a comment stating their objections but were afraid to.

“The site is a field in an elevated position which has a very beautiful landscape and it would be seriously adversely affected by this development.

“No information was provided with this application to show how the affects on wildlife would be mitigated.”

Among Cllr Smith’s other concerns included potential for anti-social behaviour, the danger of visitors crossing the A68 and the affects on a nearby badger set on the site boundary.

Speaking in support of the plans, Mark Ketley of BH Planning and Design, described Reynolds as “a visionary of his time” and said the ex-Darlington chairman had a proven track record for delivering high quality schemes.

He said: “Mr Reynolds is proposing a small scale holiday accommodation scheme to deliver high quality log cabins which will be a significant contribution to the visitor economy. Whilst there are concerns it’s felt many of these could be addressed.”