A 60-strong group of residents objecting to plans to build 400 houses on a country park held a demonstration at the weekend.

The homes are being proposed for land south of the Parkway, at Flatts Lane Country Park at the foot of the Eston Hills.

The protest was organised by local filmmaker and activist Craig Hornby, who leads conservation group The Friends of Eston Hills.

He said: "The meeting was to rally people together and record interviews for a campaign film that I am putting together.

"People are angry and rightly so. They were told by the developer that work recently carried out on the site was purely agricultural. But they destroyed footpaths, felled mature trees, filled in ponds and then announced plans for 400 houses."

Resident Kester Marsh, of Flatts Lane, said: "The development is unwanted by everyone locally. The extra burden on infrastructure and already congested roads will be impossible."

Sheila Harvey, of Ormesby, who walks her dogs on the site, said: "We have a falling population. We have empty houses. They are spoiling an area for the sake of profit, rather than looking at what the locality really needs - and it isn't more housing in an area as sensitive as this."

Redcar MP Anna Turley visited the site last week and has launched an online petition, collecting 1,300 signatures in just over a week.

She said: "We've got a long process to go through yet, we've all got to work together to make our voices heard.

"We need to be regenerating brownfield sites and building houses that people can afford.

"We're not going to stand for developers coming in to build houses in places that nobody wants. There aren't enough green spaces, we've got to protect the little we've got."

Normanby councillor Brian Dennis added: "The hills are a valuable asset to the community and wildlife.

"They have never been part of any plan to build on and never will be. Not one person has come forward in support of the development. The developers need to think long and hard before wasting money pursuing an idea that local people are going fight very hard to prevent from happening."

Mr Hornby said he feared building on the south side of the Parkway could trigger a "domino effect" that could see housing built all the way long the bottom of the Eston hills.

"This proposal must be fought tooth and nail and this first gathering is an encouraging start," he added.

Developers Theakston Land could not be reached for comment.