Objectors to plans for up to 700 homes on an upmarket Teesside estate are organising themselves to protect their “environmental Mona Lisa”.

About 200 residents came to a public meeting where objectors to a major housing scheme laid out their criticisms of the developers and Stockton Council, which is considering the outline proposals.

They talked of their plans to challenge the development, including the formation of a community interest company (CIC) and possible crowdfunding to prepare for a possible legal fight.

The Northern Echo:

The meeting was called after Cameron Hall Developments and Jomast Developments’ plans for up to 700 homes at Wynyard Village, along with a “community centre, care and medical facilities, open space, golf course improvements and associated works”, drew more than 650 comments in objection.

Speaker Tony Maxwell said residents had bought into an idyllic vision: “I see Wynyard as being like an environmental Mona Lisa, beautiful. Suddenly developers came along with a black felt tip pen and decided to draw a moustache on my Mona Lisa. It’s not acceptable.”

He said they previously welcomed developments but this one would change the “original concept” of Wynyard. “We have the right to say, no. This is not one of the things that we’re prepared to tolerate,” he told people at the Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield.

The Northern Echo:

“If you’re not careful, developers can be like thieves in the night. But we have a voice, and what we’ve got to say is, ‘Not again, if you want to change Wynyard, you consult with us.'”

He said they brought in a planning consultant who described the plan as “shoddy” and lacking information. He argued Stockton Council were not right to validate the proposals using 10-year-old documentation and criticised the authority as being incompetent and disorganised, pointing to Hartlepool Council’s response that “we would query SBC’s decision to validate the application… and do not consider that in its current form it can be appropriately assessed and determined”.The Northern Echo:

Robin Woolley, chairman of the Wynyard Residents’ Association, said the proposals were “amateur” and did not fit the Stockton Local Plan or Wynyard Masterplan, asking: “Are these plans worth the paper they’re written on?”

He said residents’ response had been “phenomenal”, adding: “We know it’s made Stockton Borough Council sit up and take notice of what’s happening.”

Now he said they wanted to introduce a CIC to pursue the case to court if necessary, and establish crowdfunding to prepare for a potential judicial review. He told how they had taken legal advice and were funding ecology surveys.The Northern Echo: Wynyard development objectors

“If the decision went against us, we would consider whether we had the grounds for a formal legal challenge,” he told the meeting.

“The application should not have been validated by the council, given the tiny amount of information that was provided. At the moment it’s impossible to judge what the impact of this is going to be.

“It’s our belief, backed up by the planning consultants, that we have sufficient information to launch a challenge against the validation decision.”

He said council policy was “a mess” and answers to freedom of information requests showed “contradiction and confusion”.

The Northern Echo:

He asserted there had been a lack of consultation before the plans went in, and called on the developers to withdraw them if they could not give a reason for this. He argued the council had let residents down by not insisting on the early consultation, and that the developers had broken residents’ trust.

He said: “It’s quite staggering for a planning application of this size, that they can come up with something like this and not ask the residents a single thing about it. It’s wholly unreasonable.

“We were given the option to critique what had gone in. We hadn’t been given the option to help shape what the application would look like in the beginning.

“To be honest they’ve taken us for granted, assuming that we’re just going to accept whatever they want to put in.”

Another speaker Chris Donkin criticised the application as “absolute rubbish”, describing it as “infantile, inaccurate and just farcical”. He said: “We know Wynyard will develop further and let us have a say in how it’s developed. That’s all we ask.”

Cameron Hall Developments and Jomast Developments responded in a joint statement: “We want to give reassurance that developing Wynyard estate in a considerate and measured way is really important to us. Our proposal is currently in outline form and more detailed plans will be formulated through the planning process.

“Further technical work is currently being undertaken to support the planning application and as the plans evolve, we will be in a position to conduct a full stakeholder consultation process, which will be a high priority. We are committed to giving all interested parties an opportunity to share their views as their opinion really matters to us, which we will take on board as the scheme progresses.

The Northern Echo:

“It is our goal that our aspirations for new amenities for the village align with those of current residents. In the interim, we are in discussions with the chair of Wynyard’s Residents’ Association to arrange a meeting, for residents’ initial concerns to be shared.”

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A Stockton Council spokesman said: “The submitted information for this application met the national requirements for validation and was therefore considered to be valid. However, the validation of a planning application does not critique the application with regards to its content and the council will require more information before a determination can be reached.

“This means the application remains in the very early stages of what is a long process. Once the relevant information is received, a re-consultation exercise will take place with all parties and consultees.”