GREEN politicians have called on council leaders to rethink a local plan, which they say will lead to urban sprawl and the destruction of countryside.

Darlington Green Party hosted a public meeting on Monday night to discuss the draft plan for the town and to look at a report it commissioned to look at its impact.

The draft plan is due to be submitted to Darlington Borough Council's cabinet shortly, after which it will go before members of the full council for approval or dismissal.

Councillor Matthew Snedker, who described the plan as "deeply unpopular" and "harmful" to future residents of the town, added: "Despite huge pressure to just push the plan through and move on to other things, the Green Party will stand up to ensure to ensure that the people’s opinions are heard and taken into account.

"I wish that other parties had taken the opportunity that last May's election gave for a proper rethink.

"Sadly it seems ‘business was usual’ is the order of the day in the town hall.”

The plan was criticised for being unsustainable, including too many green field development sites for low-density schemes, leading to urban sprawl, and including provisions for too many homes.

The party has also criticised plans for new road building, saying it would mean funding and action for other transport options, like walking and cycling networks, would be squeezed.

Cllr Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said; "The plan was put out for consultation almost two years ago so it has had full consultation and people have had their chance to comment.

"This meeting was arranged by the Green Party. As far as I'm aware they haven't put in any objections. They will still have time to do that when it goes forward to the inspector."

She added: "I understand a lot of the issues raised were environmental issues. They are legitimate and they can put those views forward."

She added that proposed housing figures – the authority has assessed 9,840 homes will need to be built by 2036 – had been produced by experts.

She said: "They take into account new jobs from the Tees Valley. All these people need somewhere to live.

"There is a view we should be trying to build on brown fields. I accept that but it is expensive.

"We don't have the funds to clear up these sites.

"We do have a plan for the town centre and part of that is bringing more people to live in it."