CONTENTIOUS plans to build an estate of 75 homes on a farmer’s field at the edge of a village have been approved, despite objections from residents and a parish council.

Concerns were raised over how Heighington village, near Darlington, could cope with an influx of families moving to the development, particularly how many primary school places would be available for children.

However, members of the Darlington Borough Council Planning Applications Committee voted in favour of rubberstamping the proposals yesterday.

Committee members heard that Bellway Homes had held a public consultation meeting in the village, where residents gave little support to any development in Heighington.

The developers stated that as part of their application, they would provide more than £300,000 in funds ring-fenced to make improvements to village, such as enhancing existing bus stops, sports facilities and creating new car parking spaces.

A sum of £229,000 was also promised to allow Heighington CE Primary School to expand school places by building a new classroom or first-floor development.

Planning officer, Dave Coates, said: “It’s rather difficult for us as a local authority as we don’t build schools anymore and we don’t have control over that.

“But what we can do, legitimately, is demand that developers make a proportionate contribution to school costs. In this case, there is a significant contribution of more than £200,000 to allow for the expansion of 38 primary school places to 45.

“In an ideal world, we’d make provisions for that school before the development is built, but in the real world, no one would make that investment.”

Thirty-one letters of objection were submitted to the council over the plans to build the site off Walworth Road, alongside Hurworth Parish Council stating: “Existing roads are inadequate to accommodate the additional vehicles which will result from the extra dwellings.

“The existing roads do not meet current width standards and if they had to accommodate additional vehicles they would become dangerous.”

Three Heighington residents spoke at the meeting to express their concerns over roads in the area, with one resident adding he had witnessed five crashes near his home while another said her nephew had been knocked over.

The council’s highways officer confirmed provisions were being made to address the width of roads and that there is no trend in accidents to the south of the village.