CAMPAIGNERS have expressed dismay after moves to protect the area they live in from becoming overwhelmed with traffic from a huge housing development appear to have been rejected.

Residents battling plans to build a 4,000-home garden village north of Darlington at Skerningham said the borough council’s leadership seemed to have made a U-turn since November over access roads to the development.

At the time, the authority’s leader Councillor Heather Scott announced it would examine barring traffic from reaching the estate from between the A167 at its junction with the A1150 to the west, and the river Skerne to the east.

A full meeting of the council also saw cross-party support for Cabinet to consider creating a Deed of Dedication on Springfield Park, where a link road to the estate has been ruled out, to guarantee its use as a green space in perpetuity.

However, in reports to a Cabinet meeting next week, officers state as planning applications have yet to be submitted for the garden village the council was not in a position to be able to legitimately substantiate any restriction to the public highway.

Officers state: “Members should also note that any attempt to impose restriction to the public highway ahead of due consideration of evidence via a planning application would not be a material consideration in considering that planning application...”

The meeting papers add as Springfield Park has been designated in the emerging Local Plan as a Local Greenspace, it would have added protection.

Officers state: “A Deed of Dedication would fetter all future considerations of the use of this land in perpetuity, including otherwise reasonable changes and development.”

Campaigner David Clark, said residents had been surprised when the moves examining barring access through the park and streets had won universal support in November and said the leader of the council clearly wanted people to see her party voting for the motions.

He added: “However, it seems as though every time the decision-making councillors then roll over on recommendations from the planning officers, who rule the roost in the Town Hall.

“To reject both motions is very disappointing and the communities of north Darlington will not forget this come May 2023.”

Labour councillor Nick Wallis said Cllr Scott’s “promise of Cabinet reports to protect residents from heavy traffic flows from Skerningham was just a dodge to shut down debate” at the last council meeting. He said councillors unanimously calle to find a way to stop roads in Harrowgate Hill, Whinfield and Haughton from becoming overwhelmed by traffic. Cllr Wallis said: “Darlington’s Conservatives reneged on their election promise to review future housing numbers. Now they won’t lift a finger to help residents threatened by the consequences of the road changes they made in early 2020.”