Councillors have approved a plan to build a filling station next to a housing estate despite more than 200 objections.

One councillor said he would not want to live next to the petrol station, but could see no reason to refuse planning permission.

The plan went through despite a local MP and ward councillor adding their voices to the objections.

Residents feared the station could ruin their peace and quiet, among numerous other concerns.

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One objector, Daniel Smith, said it would spoil the "forever home" he and his wife had saved for years to buy.

"I'd be no longer able to entertain on a summer's evening without the lingering smell of petrol in my garden," he said.

"I would no longer be able to hang my washing out, open my windows, without me and the residents being subjected to the fuel vapour in the air."

He asked councillors: "Would you be happy with this?"

Councillor Carl Marshall answered this later in the Durham County Council north planning committee meeting.

He said: "I certainly wouldn't want to live in a property adjacent to the petrol station."

But he said: "I'm really really struggling with it because I don't agree with the principle of the development but that's not a material planning ground to knock it out.

"I can't see what else we can do with it to be honest."

The Northern Echo: Cllr Carl Marshall. Picture: Northern Echo.Cllr Carl Marshall. Picture: Northern Echo.

The filling station was proposed for the site of the former Falcon pub, Hilda Park, South Pelaw, Chester-le-Street.

The Durham County Council planning committee meeting heard of 209 objections and one letter of support from a resident.

Kevan Jones MP argued the plan would undermine council objectives to move to a low-carbon economy and support renewable energy.

The Northern Echo: North Durham MP Kevan Jones. Picture: Northern Echo.North Durham MP Kevan Jones. Picture: Northern Echo.

Councillor Tracie Smith said: "What message are we sending out to our children about how serious we are about climate change when we're proposing to build a fuel filling station within 50m of residential housing, just over 100m from the schoo playing field, causing light, air and noise pollution."

She said it would have an "overbearing" and "oppressive" impact on the community and disruption 15 hours a day.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Tracie Smith. Picture: Northern Echo.Cllr Tracie Smith. Picture: Northern Echo.

"Can you imagine it? Sitting in your back garden with all of this going on. Absolutely abhorrent," she added.

She outlined concerns about road safety, parking, traffic congestion and risk of accidents, particularly to children at the nearby primary school.

Objector Helen Talbot said: "There are houses and school grounds within metres of this. So I think it's ireally important that this application is turned down."

She said it was "short-sighted" on climate change and "morally and ethically irresponsible".

Other concerns were raised about sustainability, competition to existing shops, overshadowing, drainage, anti-social behaviour, vermin, house prices, mental health, human rights, archaeology and effects on bats and birds.

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The applicant Ali Rezaei said he walked his child to school past a service station without any accidents, "so that's completely irrelevant".

He said the proposed filling station "perfectly fits the area" which had shops and a garage which used to be a fuel station.

He also outlined plans to add electric chargung points with growing demand.

Environmental health officers from the council did not object  to the scheme.

Planning officers found it was acceptable with careful regulation in place and "positioned to reduce the effect on neighbours", with no issues to justify refusal.

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Cllr Patricia Jopling said: "I used to live within about 20m of a petrol station. I lived there for 15 years.

"As far as I know there was never a problem with pollution or very much noise. It was a busy road.

"I can't see a planning issue to turn this down. I think it'll be an asset to the people that live there."

Cllr Marshall added: "I think that however bad fossil fuels are for the environment, they're going to be around for some time to come."

He abstained from the vote while other councillors voted to approve the plan.