A MULTI-million pound road to open up land for commercial development at an airport has been approved, despite fears being raised the scheme could be a waste of money.

Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee followed its Stockton counterpart in approving the scheme for a 1.8km link road between the Northside and the Southside of Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Officers told the meeting the road would unlock an existing permission for warehousing and distribution centres development on the airport’s Southside.

A number of councillors questioned the sense in approving the scheme in the light of Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen’s intention to buy the airport for £35m.

The meeting heard the road, planning permission for which was granted in 2015 before expiring last month, would be offset from the end of the runway to ensure the airfield safeguarding surfaces are not compromised and navigational aids maintained. For safety the road would feature two sets of traffic lights, which would signal three times an hour to accommodate flights.

Councillor Gerald Lee said if the airport got new owners who significantly increased flights from the airport, the link road could become “redundant and however many million pounds it’s going to cost to install is wasted”.

He said: “I would have thought that it should be deferred at this early stage to consult with the aviation authorities to find out whether this will work.”

Even without an increase in aircraft, Councillor Catherine Gilsenan, chairman of Middleton St George Parish Council told the meeting, the road would be inadequate.

She said: “All airport, commercial and industrial traffic would have to use the same route as residential. In view of the 350 houses granted permission for the airport, plus the 55 houses at Lancaster Gate this would be extremely hazardous.”

Before councillors approved the road, the committee’s chairman, Councillor Paul Baldwin told members they had to consider the road as it was being presented.