CAMPAIGNERS opposed to plans for 24 affordable houses on a narrow strip of recreational land fear it is ‘inevitable’ that the proposals will be approved.

Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee will next week debate plans for the homes on a grassed area between Buxton Moor Crescent and Edgemoor Road, on the town’s Firthmoor estate.

Planning officers are recommending that the plans be approved, despite a string of objections including a petition signed by more than 150 residents.

Issues raised by residents include concerns over the loss of open space and a loss of views for those in surrounding houses.

Objectors also say the site suffers from poor drainage and is subject to flooding.

The grassed area, separated by a public footpath, is used by local children and includes a small football pitch, complete with goalposts.

Eddie Richardson, of Buxton Moor Crescent, has lived in the area for 60 years and grew up playing with friends on the land in question.

He said he will probably attend the committee meeting, but fears the issue is a foregone conclusion.

Council leader Bill Dixon, who does not sit on the planning committee, has already given the scheme his backing, saying the need for affordable housing outweighs concerns over the loss of open space.

The development would see the loss of 5,500sq metres of open space.

A report to committee members states that there is an over-provision of open space in the Eastbourne ward, which the planned development area falls into.

The report states: “The layout conforms with the council’s approved residency distances, both between the proposed and existing dwellings.

“The design is considered appropriate within the suburban context of this locality... and will not conflict with the character [of the area].

“Flooding is not considered to be a problem by the Environment Agency, which supports the proposal.

“Potential contaminated land issues are being discussed with the environmental health officer, however it is expected a resolution will be reached in time for the committee meeting.

“The proposed development will provide much-needed affordable housing in Darlington, where there is a recognised and acute shortfall.”

The committee meets at 1.30pm on Wednesday (February 13), at the Town Hall.