Safety fears over bid to alter housing scheme near busy A690

Land earmarked for 150 homes in West Rainton.
Land earmarked for 150 homes in West Rainton.

Protesters fear drivers and residents will be put at risk by proposed changes to a controversial housing estate.

Tees Valley Housing was granted planning permission to build 150 new homes and a "community hub" in Station Road, West Rainton, more than three years ago.

While signs have since appeared advertising the supposed retail side of the development, building work has still to start on the farmland.

The housing group has now gone back to Durham County Council to seek a relaxation of restrictions placed on the scheme's approval.

It wants to wait until around a quarter of the houses are built before submitting detailed plans for improvements to the nearby A690 junction with the village's Lambton View.

These improvements would then not be completed until half the properties have been occupied.

In a statement to the county council supporting its case, Thirteen, as the housing group is now called. wrote: "This will enable the first phase of the project to generate a positive cash flow and therefore assist with the funding of the necessary work.

"The detailed design work for these junctions is costly and there are issues in producing the designs prior to the development's first phase."

West Rainton and Leamside Parish Council, however, is among objectors to the changes and in its own statement to the council wrote: "The parish council feel it is imperative that all traffic improvements must be in place prior to any housing development.

"The increase of housing and subsequent traffic without the proposed road improvements poses risks to vehicle users and residents of West Rainton."

The variations to the 2014 approval have still to be discussed by the county council.

Hundreds of residents opposed the scheme even after an initial application for 250 homes was scaled back.

The current plan covers a mixture of detached and semi-detached houses with up to five bedrooms. Thirty of the properties are for social housing.

Another factor worrying the parish council is a separate bid made earlier this year by Avant Homes to build 64 houses at the other end of the village.