A GROUP aimed at protecting and improving an open space in Darlington has hit out at plans to allow housing development close to the beauty spot.

Undeveloped land in Eggleston View, close to Cocker Beck, has been earmarked for up to 24 homes as part of Darlington Borough Council's draft Making and Growing Places (MGP) masterplan.

The wide-ranging document, which is currently out for public consultation, sets out areas for developments up to 2026.

Eggleston View is one of more than 25 potential sites under consideration.

Members of Friends of Cocker Beck are objecting to plans for housing so close to the beck.

They were recently granted planning permission for a pond near the beck and want to develop the area as a community hub.

Tilly Shaw, from the group, which was set up in November and has about 20 members, said: "The housing plans were proposed on the same land that we are trying to improve, a green nature reserve.

"We will be sending in an objection from the group as a whole, although individuals have already voiced their opinions."

Pauline Mitchell, the council's assistant director for housing, said: “We welcome residents’ feedback on our proposals.

"Following the first consultation on the site, our parks and countryside development manager has been working with the Friends of Cocker Beck to address their concerns.

"We understand the group is keen to create green space and wildlife, so our landscape architect is producing some drawings of what this could look like.

"Darlington’s population is the fastest-growing in the region and while this is good news for our local economy, we do need to invest in new council housing.

"We want to work with the local community to get the best of both worlds in terms of a development that meets our housing needs as well as meeting the needs of the community."

Drop-in consultation events on MGP will be held across Darlington during June. Comments can be made until July 4, in the following ways:

* Completing a comment form at darlington.gov.uk/mgp;

* Filling out a form at the Town Hall or a library, or at one of the drop-in events;

* E-mailing planning.policy@darlington.gov.uk;

* Writing to Freepost DL64, Planning Policy, Darlington Borough Council, Darlington DL1 5BS or calling 01325-388644.