CONTROVERSIAL plans to extend a caravan park in a Teesdale beauty spot have been backed by county council planners.

They decided The Caravan Club scheme to create 54 new pitches in addition to the existing 76 at its park in Lartington, near Barnard Castle, would not pose any extra danger to motorists and pedestrians, despite the concerns of residents, two parish councils and two Teesdale county councillors.

Claims that the development's economic benefit to Teesdale could total £3.2m a year were also questioned by objectors.

The South and West Durham area planning committee was told that to help alleviate any problems faced by pedestrians walking along the B6277 from the park to Barnard castle, The Caravan Club had agreed to pay for an all-weather surface along the road's verge.

Members were told work to install it would start next month.

Ian Jerred, Lartington Parish Council clerk, told members: “Issues of road safety have always concerned us.

“Furthermore, they worry those staying at the site. There are numerous reviews on the club's own website testifying to the dangers the road poses for pedestrians.”

Recommending refusal of the scheme, Barnard Castle East member Councillor George Richardson said: “This is an extremely fast and dangerous stretch of road that you would not expect in the countryside.

“This won't be the first time I have disagreed with the highways officer, but I would hate to have someone die to prove me right.”

Supporting the scheme, chairman Coun Mike Dixon said tourism was a major part of Durham's economic regeneration strategy.

“We want to welcome visitors, not reluctantly let them in,” he said.

Planning permission was granted with just Coun Richardson voting against the scheme.