IT WAS, as Hollywood movie parlance would have it, a tough call for Stockton Borough Council's planning committee last Saturday.

It met at the weekend to reach a decision on plans for developing former farmland on the banks of Tees and, after a lengthy debate during which vociferous objections were heard, it came down on the side of development.

The plans for Bowesfield Park in South Stockton include homes, a business park, a sailing club, a leisure club and country park. Objectors wanted to retain the entire 100 acres as a country park, pointing out that in the local planning blueprint the land is designated as a "green wedge" area.

Balancing the needs of employment and business with the requirement for green breathing space in towns is difficult in places like Stockton. Arguably, (and this is the view of the council) the town's greatest need at present is room to develop. Regeneration has taken place over the past 10 years and the success of the nearby Preston Farm Industrial Estate indicates people do want to do business there.

This land is currently a favourite spot for fly-tippers and is in danger of becoming an absolute eyesore. There is no guarantee that its preservation as a green space will be respected by the people who currently defile it. What use is a large country park if the local authority can't afford to police it and it falls victims to vandals? Development is perhaps the best way to put it out of its misery.