A decision on whether to allow a developer to build 69 homes in a Middlesbrough community has been delayed amid concerns that residents could be “marooned”.

Numerous residents opposed Persimmon Homes’ plans for the homes at Nunthorpe Grange, with 33 objections from householders, a community council, parish council and ward councillors.

Objectors to the three to five-bedroom homes questioned the need for more houses and raised issues like lack of services, loss of open space and light, impact on wildlife, flooding risk, traffic, road safety, inadequate parking or public transport, noise, pollution, anti-social behaviour and litter.

The plan – which reduced the number of homes from 97, a previous scheme refused in 2020 – was considered by Middlesbrough Council on Friday. Officers recommended the plan for approval, saying it was a “high-quality development with large contemporary homes in an attractive landscaped setting” and it would “not have a significant impact on existing properties”.

However councillors on the planning committee found their decision hamstrung by uncertainty over a proposed footpath link into Nunthorpe Gardens, needed for access to local facilities and public transport.

Committee chair Cllr John Hobson said: “I can’t really personally vote either for this or against this because without this link through Nunthorpe Gardens, it isn’t going to happen. What I’d like to propose is to defer this for a six-month period, in which time it gives the applicant and the man that owns the land to get together and make a decision.

“They’ve had two years to sort it out. If they can’t do it in six months then something else will have to happen.”

Cllr David Coupe said: “It’s such a key point. Without that, without agreement, we can’t go ahead.” Councillors voted to defer the decision.

Persimmon is “in negotiations” to enable the essential footpath link, says the council’s report. It adds: “Without the link to Nunthorpe Gardens the site is not considered to be sustainable… Should the link not be provided the development could not proceed.”

Councillor Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough’s deputy mayor who represents Nunthorpe, said after the meeting: “This is not the result that I fought for – which was for the committee to totally reject this application. But it is a more preferable outcome than what the recommendation was, which was to approve this application.

“I spoke at the planning meeting and said it should be refused on many grounds – such as the extra strain it would cause on our roads, our community facilities and our wildlife’s habitats. I was also fearful it could open the door to development on the other side of the bypass – a total red line.

“However in my mind the most ridiculous part of this proposal was that it would be totally marooned from the rest of Nunthorpe – with residents who chose to live there unable to walk to the shops, the GPs or even their children to school as there was no path to link it with the rest of our community. Those who lived there would be totally dependent on using their cars to access the rest of Nunthorpe.

“This is not green, sustainable or conducive to community life. Thankfully this is an argument that the committee listened to.

“The overall result is that the decision has been deferred for six months until there is evidence that Persimmon can achieve this – which I believe is unlikely given land ownership issues.”

Fellow Nunthorpe member Cllr Jon Rathmell said during the meeting: “My primary concern with this site is the access. We’ve got no guarantees of access.

“There’s been no joined-up thinking by the developer. It’s a total health and safety issue for residents and it is going to leave them isolated. Given the lack of certainty, I ask the committee rejects it purely for road and pedestrian access.”

Nunthorpe Parish Council chair Cllr Adrian Walker said: “The overwhelming view in Nunthorpe, shared by the parish council, is that there should be no house-building in Nunthorpe Grange.”

He said the plan was “excessive” and “fundamentally non-compliant” with Middlesbrough Council’s Local Plan, policies and a sustainable travel plan. He added: “There has been no alternative proposal to alleviate the traffic problems of Nunthorpe. The additional cars of the residents of Persimmon’s site would only add to the Marton and Coulby crawl.

“The officer’s report admits that without a pedestrian link through Nunthorpe Gardens there cannot be a sustainable travel plan and therefore zero development on Persimmon’s site may proceed without this link.”

Objector Bill Wells said an offer to find a solution to privacy, overshadowing, overlooking, footpath, cycleway and land ownership issues had been withdrawn. He added: “We just feel abandoned.”