A LANDMARK development in the North-East could be under threat from a planning blueprint.

The future of Middlesbrough's £500m Middlehaven development has been placed in doubt by the North-East Assembly, which is drawing up a document allocating only 60 hectares of development land to Middlesbrough in the next 20 years.

But the Middlehaven site alone is 100 hectares - and, if the blueprint is adopted, it could restrict the huge development potential there and elsewhere in the town.

Middlesbrough Council and Tees Valley Regeneration are now campaigning for the North-East Assembly to change the draft blueprint and allow the town more development.

Kevin Parkes, head of planning and development at the council, said: "If Middlesbrough is to be a truly effective economic engine room for the Tees Valley, it really needs to punch its weight and compete with other regional centres.

"On the face of it, the development of Middlehaven could be constrained by these figures."

Once the assembly's document is adopted, it is law and all North-East councils will have to follow it.

It is at the consultation stage and would be adopted by the end of next year.

The blueprint could also restrict the number of homes that Middlesbrough Council could give planning permission to.

Graham Robb, official spokesman for the campaign against a North-East regional assembly, told a consultation meeting at Stockton's Arc centre: "This body, the regional assembly, and its regional spatial plan, has no democratic legitimacy following the massive no vote in 2004.

"The North-East debated and decided by the massive majority that it did not want supra-regional strategies like this."

Malcolm Bowes, the assembly's assistant director for regional development, argued he was not placing constraints on Middlehaven and said the assembly was prepared to be flexible "as long as it does not affect other people nearby".

The council is also concerned that the limit on development over 20 years would constrict other schemes in Middlesbrough, such as a site at Hemlington Grange that has been identified for development.

Today, the leader of Stockton Borough Council, Councillor Bob Gibson, and Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon will launch the Stockton-Middlesbrough initiative, a major vision for the regeneration of both town centres and the 3,000 hectares of land between them - a scheme that could also be hindered by the restrictions.