CAMPAIGNERS battling proposals to build 4,500 homes over open countryside have submitted a documentary film to the Planning Inspectorate to highlight the potential impact of the scheme.

Skerningham: Jewel In The Crown has been sent to government inspectors ahead of them examining Darlington Borough Council’s controversial proposed Local Plan next week.

Campaigners said due to Covid restrictions it had not been possible to organise protests, so they hoped the film, which is attracting hundreds of views every day on Youtube, would highlight concerns over the proposed development.

Northern Film School graduate Joshua Montoro, who undertook research, interviews, filming, sound recording and editing for the 15-minute film, said he had been happy to offer his services after discovering many residents remained unaware of the local authority’s plans.

Alongside interviews with numerous residents expressing dismay over the environmental impact and effect on people’s quality of life, the film features footage of an array of wildlife on the proposed development site, ranging from kingfisher birds to deer.

It also focuses on the loss of recreational facilities such as permissive paths and open spaces and the permanent consequences for the area’s character. The film highlights how a community woodland would be converted into a golf course under the council’s plans and features images by wildlife photographer Leanne Carol.

Yarm resident Mr Montoro said: “The inspiration for making the film came from seeing the total disregard given to the natural world in the pursuit of capital. It’s happening all around us. If we truly want to make a greener and fairer society then we need to look at creating affordable carbon neutral housing, not decimating green spaces that are so important to people and nature.”

Despite being produced on a £2,000 budget and being Mr Montoro’s first documentary film, it has been praised for its quality by viewers on Youtube.

Darlington Friends of the Earth coordinator Kendra Ullyart said it was hoped the film would attract the attention of the wider community of Darlington.

She said: “We needed to show the people with power what is at stake because, as the film states, many of those people do not live here and have no real understanding of the issues involved. To reach the public I knew we needed something bold, professional and ambitious, that encapsulated the care of the entire community and told their full story - something beyond a written report or a statistical breakdown.”