A PUBLIC inquiry into a controversial application to build 550 houses next to a planned free school has come to an end.

Stockton Borough Council rejected the plan from Tiviot Way Investments and Satnam developers near Low Lane in Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton.

But the developers appealed and a Government planning inspector has held a three day hearing at Stockton’s Tabernacle.

The council had previously rejected the plan to build a new free school in Ingleby Barwick along with 350 associated homes. However, that decision was overturned on appeal because the authority could not show enough dwellings were being built for anticipated demand.

The council’s planning committee nevertheless rejected the 550-home plan, arguing it was against local policy to develop on the land and there were also highway safety concerns.

The developers argue that the council had not extended the ‘green wedge’ or protected land marking on its local plan and say there is a need for new houses.

The planning inspector will now submit his final report on his findings to the Secretary of State who will decide the outcome in the coming weeks.