A MAJOR development in a County Durham village is set to get even bigger after plans for a dozen more homes were approved.

The extra homes are earmarked for an estate at the southern edge of Sherburn Village, where consent has already been granted for 120 properties.

Work commenced on the site in June 2019 with a new highway access onto Mill Lane and as of July 2020, two homes were occupied and 28 were under construction.

In recent months, Persimmon Homes Durham applied to Durham County Council to amend the existing planning permission.

Developers said the bid was prompted by market demands for starter homes and smaller family homes, with the changes bringing the total number of properties up to 132.

However, the increase in homes is linked to a redesign of the estate with the site’s footprint remaining unchanged.

During consultation, eight letters were submitted to county planners raising a series of concerns around ‘post-permission changes’ and the impact of new homes on traffic levels.

Concerns were also raised by Sherburn division members with Cllr David Hall requesting highways changes near the entrance of the development.

This included a condition to add a 30mph zone to a “suitable location on the other side of the new junction” and a pedestrian crossing with “appropriate signage.”

The request was officially made during the latest county planning committee which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.

Highways development manager for the council, John McGargill, said he had been lobbied over the past five years to move a 30mph speed limit north of the junction to the south of the junction – a request which has been resisted.

“Cllr Hall has said that there are ‘significant concerns’ about the safety of the highway, those concerns that he has are not shared by the highway authority,” the officer said.

“The junction has been assessed, a road safety audit has been undertaken in accordance with government guidelines and national standards and has been completed and signed off.

“We as a highway authority are happy that this is a safe junction, there’s no question that it’s a safe junction.”

The highways boss said there were no historical issues with road traffic accidents at the site, with the extra traffic from another 12 homes – eight additional trips at peak hour – deemed as “insignificant.”

He added that reducing the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph would not reduce the number of accidents but may lead to reduced severity of injuries. Concerns were also raised by highways officers and planners about introducing a planning condition which would rely on a third party, Durham Constabulary, agreeing to the speed limit changes.

During discussion, proposals for the speed limit condition failed to win support from the committee.

As outline and reserved matters permission had previously been approved for the housing estate, several councillors stated the matter was not a valid planning consideration.

Cllr Ivan Jewell said: “I admire the local members for pushing on this and I could see why they would want to.

“But I think the planning process is being drawn into something that is not fully a planning matter.”

At the meeting, Cllr Mark Wilkes also criticised the amount of funds developers were contributing towards public art and community improvements in the revised application.

This included a new sum of £7,500 -£625 per property – on top of the £75,000 already allocated in a section 106 agreement when the plans were originally approved.

“It seems like a woefully inadequate amount and is significantly less than we have seen in applications in other areas including mine,” he said.

“It does feel to me a little bit like Sherburn is getting a bit of a hard deal on this.”

Following discussion, plans for the extra 12 homes were approved with a majority vote.

This included 11 votes in favour and single objection from Cllr George Richardson.