A NATIONAL park is being urged to throw out a Guisborough homes scheme.

Opposition to the plans for Home Farm gathered pace this week as members of the North York Moors planning committee prepared to consider the issue.

Dr Ashok Kumar MP registered a strong protest to proposals to convert barns into homes with office accommodation.

A packed public meeting resolved to fight the scheme to the end.

Guisborough Town Council chairman Coun Brian Whiteley said Guisborough had lost enough green space of late and pledged council support for protests.

The controversial plans have been submitted by Southlands Management, owners of Home Farm, which lies to the south of the town in the national park area.

Occupied by tenant farmer Mr Leslie Wilkinson and his family, Home Farm and its barns are listed buildings.

Dr Kumar, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: "This proposal has incensed the people of Guisborough. Only a couple of years ago, there was a plan to convert part of the farm into an equestrian centre and this was rejected.

"Now we see a plan which would mean housing in the national park and the loss of valuable listed buildings.

"If the park approved this application, it would also mean the loss of a valuable reminder of the area's rural history in the shape of 19th century hydraulically-driven farm machinery, presently in one of the barns under threat."

Dr Kumar thinks the proposal flies in the face of the planning policies of the park and is urging committee members to reject it.

"If, in the teeth of public opposition, they did grant it, I feel it could be the thin end of the wedge for this part of Guisborough's countryside," he said.

Coun Whiteley said: "We are behind any protest on this. There was uproar over plans for an equestrian centre at Home Farm.

"We want Home Farm to be left alone. If that goes, we start encroaching on the moors themselves."

Coun Whiteley said the issue was likely to be discussed at the council's meeting later this month, after first being considered by its planning committee.

More than 200 people crowded into Highcliffe school on Tuesday to get a public protest under way.

Mr John Wright, chairman of the Friends of Home Farm action group, said it was decided that as many people as possible would write to the national park with objections to the scheme.

"We will wage a vigorous campaign to protect Home Farm, the farmer and his family," he said.

The national park's chief planning officer, Val Dilcock, said Dr Kumar's objection was one of a number received by the authority.

"We are considering all the views and will be preparing a report for the planning committee members," she said.

The application will be considered later this month.