An inspector is set to hear a one-day appeal about a controversial housing plan for 215 homes in May.

Mandale Homes’ appeal will be heard before a government-appointed inspector at Stockton Central Library on May 16, almost five months after the proposal to build homes on fields at Mount Leven Farm, Leven Bank Road, Yarm, was rejected.

Councillors on Stockton Council’s planning committee refused planning permission for the scheme last December.

The developer asked for permission to build 180 houses and 35 bungalows in four “villages” on the 12.6 hectares of farmland. However it was turned down with four reasons given.

The council maintains the proposed development does not meet the needs of the ageing population and would harm the character and appearance of the area and green space, and the Mount Leven roundabout is confusing, unsafe and unsuitable. It says the plan should be refused planning permission.

Planning permission was previously given for a “retirement village” with 332 homes, a 68-bed nursing home and facilities including a tennis court, bowling green, community hall and convenience store.

They originally had to be occupied by at least one person aged 55 or over in a household, but this stipulation was later removed, with the developer saying it was “unworkable”.

The authority says Mandale Homes’ plan does not provide housing specifically meeting the needs of older residents as they would need to be adapted by the owners.

It argues poor connectivity and lack of community and leisure facilities would make it “unattractive for an ageing population”, and it did not have the same benefits as the previous retirement village plan to outweigh the harm to green space.

The applicant said the land was allocated in the council’s Local Plan for housing, was not green wedge or green belt, the proposed homes were 100 per cent accessible and adaptable.

Planning agent Jeremy Good said at one of the previous planning meetings: “The proposal seeks to deliver on the aspiration of housing to meet the needs of an ageing population.”

“The principle has been long established through the adoption of the site in the Local Plan.

It is acknowledged that the scheme is a deviation from the original proposals, which may concern members, however it is a scheme that stays true to many of the design principles originally endorsed by the council.”

The plan for 215 homes was refused by councillors, against officers’ recommendations, in December last year after a string of objectors and residents spoke against it and it sparked a debate over control of planning decisions.

It had attracted more than 100 objections and 23 letters of support, with criticisms over footpaths, cycle links, facilities, the roundabout and environmental concerns.

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Council planning officers had recommended approving the proposed development. But a majority of councillors on the planning committee rejected it by 5-4 vote.

Objector Michael Brazell said recently: “We want an appeal. I’m quite happy to go to an appeal because I think we have a valid case.”

The developer later put in a revised planning application for the same number of homes. This has not yet been decided by the council but it too has drawn numerous objections, and some comments in support.