BOSSES at Durham Tees Valley Airport have flexed their muscles at a parish council and demanded the facility be removed from a local planning document that could affect its proposals to build 400 homes in its grounds.
Airport director Peter Nears said it is “wholly unnecessary” to include the site in Middleton St George’s proposed neighbourhood plan and argued the parish council did not have the knowledge or resources to comment on airport planning.
Middleton St George Parish Council has spent months working on a neighbourhood plan, a legal document setting out what the village is willing to allow in terms of future housing or business developments up to 2025.
The parish council was spurred into action by a number of planning applications that would add several hundred properties to the village, which locals say is already overstretched, and had planned to include the airport - which lies partly within the parish - in the document.
Residents fear the airport's economic masterplan, which includes proposals to build 400 homes in its grounds, close to Middleton St George, will put extra strain on village services.
But the parish council’s attempt to include the airport within the legal boundary of the neighbourhood plan, which would give them a strong say in any development on the airport site, looks set to be turned down by Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet after intervention of airport bosses.
In a letter sent to the council's planning department, Mr Nears, strategic planning director for airport owner Peel Holdings, said the airport “objected strongly” to the site’s inclusion in the neighbourhood plan.
He continued: “A neighbourhood plan that seeks to include the airport is wholly unnecessary and potentially counter-productive given the significant resources involved in preparing the airport masterplan.
“It would undermine the substantial efforts the airport has put into securing a viable future for DTVA.
“As a key regional asset and international gateway, the airport is not the kind of major economic asset neighbourhood planning is designed to deal with. It is questionable whether the parish council has the resources available to deal with what is an extremely specialist area.”
Councillor Doris Jones, parish chairwoman, said the airport’s stance was unfortunate, but the parish council had no choice but to agree to its demands.
She said: “I suppose they don’t want us having control over their plans. We don’t want to waste time and energy fighting Peel Holdings."
Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet will be asked to agree a neighbourhood area that covers Middleton St George and Low Dinsdale but skirts around the boundary of the airport when it meets tomorrow, part of the lengthy legal process to create the document.