THE housebuilder behind a controversial development in Hurworth is to pay over £1m to help improve local infrastructure as part of a planning agreement.

Bellway Homes is building 95 four and five-bedroom houses on the outskirts of the village, the most expensive priced at £490,000.

The scheme met with a wealth of local opposition when it was first proposed by Banks Group, and was passed despite hundreds of objections.

Now Bellway is to make planning contributions worth £1.26m to the community in and around Hurworth and Darlington, including £305,000 to the nearby Hurworth Primary School and £273,000 to fund an evening bus service to Darlington for five years.

A further £98,000 will be invested in sustainable transport.

Debbie Foster, Head of Sales for Bellway Durham, said: “It’s fantastic to see work progressing so well at Hurworth Gardens, and we’re delighted that as part of the development we’re able to give back to the local community.

“With money towards local education and transport, we’re hoping that our investments will enhance the already pretty village.

“We like to think we’re adding to the community here, not just building houses.”

The housing development, which is on greenfield land on the edge of Hurworth, proved controversial among residents, who feared that if an initial application was approved then more would follow.

Residents expressed concern about the existing dangers of speeding traffic on Roundhill Road, any increased risk of flooding, the loss of greenfield land and the impact on local amenities including schools and the doctor's surgery at Rockliffe Court.

But Banks Developments, which put in the planning application on Bellway's behalf, promised benefits including economic benefits, including about 30 direct local jobs during the construction phase as well as more in the supply chain, as well as the grant to the school and the subsidised evening bus service.