VILLAGE residents have voted to fight a proposed housing estate which they fear will swamp their community.

Sixty people at a public meeting in Wolsingham opposed the plan by Yuill Homes to build 117 homes on the Sawmills site.

Yuills has not submitted a planning application for the development, but has revealed an outline scheme in displays in the village.

Richard Wigham, one of a six-strong committee representing the three streets closest to the site, said: "The people of Wolsingham showed they are overwhelmingly against these houses.

"If Yuills submit an application, they will face stiff opposition. The feeling is very strong right through the village. We cannot do anything until an application is submitted, but we will ask every resident to send in letters of objection.

"There would be far too many houses for the size of the village. It would completely destroy the character of the place."

Wear Valley District Councillor Vere Shuttleworth accused officers of "doing a deal" with developers, who would build access roads to a proposed business park and the Weardale Railway depot.

Nigel Bell, land director for Yuill Homes, said that locals' comments will be used to modify plans before the scheme is submitted to Wear Valley District Council.

He said: "The development would comprise eight acres of housing with a variety of two, three and four-bedroomed homes - 15 of which would be available for shared ownership. In addition, a new nine-acre business park would be developed to support local and incoming firms, together with substantial environmental improvements both within and beyond the site.

"A roundabout on Durham Road would help reduce traffic speeds and provide access to the new development and to the Weardale Railway Company depot.