OUTLINE plans for a 25-home estate in a County Durham village have been approved.

Durham County Council’s planning department recommended approval for the land adjacent to a property known as Snook Acres, off Front Street, Witton Gilbert.

The application, from Witton Hall Farm, seeks to demolish buildings on the agricultural site to make way for houses.

Planning officers stressed this would not include a grade-II listed building at the former Smithy and that there is an advanced scheme in place that could see it converted into a home.

They added the site was in a sustainable location with good transport links and would provide seven affordable homes.

Councillor Mark Davinson called for action from the applicants to preserve the listed building on the site.

“We have a policy about preserving listed buildings, it’s in a near derelict condition and could do with being tidied up,” he said.

“Is there anything we can add into the plan so the applicant can look after the listed building.”

Planners confirmed there was an advanced scheme in place that could see the building converted into a home in future.

Following discussion, the council’s Central and East Area Planning Committee voted unanimously to approve the plans.

A five-figure sum from the applicant was secured to reduce the impact on the environment and loss of space, including £43,477 towards play areas or facilities in the Esh and Witton Gilbert division and £14,880 towards ecology schemes.

Under the outline planning approval, full details of access, scale and layout will be rubber-stamped at a later date.

Currently, the applicant aims to create a vehicle access to the housing estate from Front Street to the North West of the site.

This would also serve another site to the west, which was given planning approval for 14 homes in 2016.