COUNCILLORS have rejected plans to build new homes on part of a pub car park.

Carlton Developments North Limited wanted to build a terrace of four homes in the car park of the County Hotel, Aycliffe Village.

But members of Sedgefield Borough Council's development control committee refused planning permission for the scheme when they met last Friday.

The company had wanted to develop a strip of land facing the village green, which hotel owner Andrew Brown says he does not need for customer parking.

But 13 residents objected to the plans. Their main fears were increased traffic and parking chaos.

They were concerned that the loss of 22 pub parking spaces, coupled with the extra cars of new residents and visitors, would lead to people parking on the village green, and along the street, therefore causing a bottleneck on the main route into the village.

Norman Peterson, the developer's agent, said: "The pub owner, Mr Brown, has considered the car parking situation and has monitored it at peak times.

"He wants to let go of the land because those spaces that would be lost are not needed. Even at the busiest times, between meal sittings, the car park is not completely full.

"He wouldn't jeopardise the success of his business by losing valuable car parking."

Principal planning officer Andrew Farnie told councillors that he recommended the proposal be approved.

He said: "Traffic and parking were uppermost in our considerations. We have worked hard with highways officers and they have no objections."

The design of the homes would have been similar to houses that occupied the site until about 25 years ago.

Planning officers believed the scheme could enhance the street appearance - which is part of the village conservation area.

However, the committee agreed with residents that four houses would be too many for the site and refused the application because of the impact they felt it would have on traffic.

Councillor John Moran said: "I'm not opposed to redevelopment, but I do think two properties would be more suitable, leaving more parking space and attracting less traffic."