A DISABLED couple are urging councillors to object to plans to build dozens of new houses, which they claim would prevent them escaping from their home in an emergency.

Permission is being sought to build 80 homes on the site of the former Springfield Primary School on Salters Lane South in Darlington.

The 2.9 hectares of land were formally used as playing fields by the school, which closed in April 2006 and was demolished two months later.

The planning application, which will be discussed before Darlington Borough Council's planning committee today, urges councillors to approve the plans.

But a disabled couple who live at a property backing on to the land earmarked for development have claimed they will no longer be able to escape in the event of an emergency.

In their objection letter, the couple state: "I have received notice of a planning application to build houses on a field at the rear of my home which will impede access to the rear of my property.

"Both my partner and I are registered as disabled and our bedroom is on the ground floor with access to the garden and back field.

"In the case of a fire it would be our only escape route so we are objecting to the homes being built."

Addressing in the concern, the planning documents state: "Unfortunately, there is no opportunity to accommodate a rear access from the objector’s garden, as this area would be private garden.

"The layout proposed, and the lack of access from a rear garden to private land is not unusual in residential environments.

"In this case, the objector would need to make any escape into their own garden for safety or from the front of their dwelling."

Other objections including concerns over the ability for the road network to cope with increase in traffic, loss of green space and trees, and a lack of need for new homes in the area have also been raised.

Applicant Norr Consulting has agreed to provide 20 per-cent of affordable housing within the development, and will also pay £80,000 for improvements to the roundabout on Thompson Street East.

Planning documents went on to state: "The scale, design and layout of the development accords with the relevant policy in the development plan.

"The development respects the amenity and general character of the area and the application is not considered to raise any issues in relation to car parking provision, highway safety or crime prevention."