MORE than 500 potential new homes will be up for discussion by councillors.

A total of 533 homes have been proposed across three separate planning applications for Consett, Barnard Castle and Bearpark.

The plans are to be discussed in a meeting of Durham County Council's planning committee on Tuesday, May 2.

Planning officers have recommended approval for all three proposals, which have attracted objections.

First, the committee will consider a plan to build 288 homes on the outskirts of Consett.

Miller Homes are asking for planning permission to build the three to five-bedroom bungalows and terraced, semi-detached and detached houses near Delves Lane.

The developer said the plan will provide 892 jobs, more than five hectares of public open space and recreation grounds, hundreds of thousands of pounds in contributions to public services and almost £3.8m in tax revenue.

The council received a petition signed by 337 residents opposing the plan, and 142 letters of objection and representation from residents, businesses and an opposition group.

Objectors argued the land was green belt, unsuitable for development, without enough health and education capacity, shops and facilities in the area.

A council report outlined among the objections: "There are relatively few employment opportunities in Consett however these will be high-end properties.

"This is not the type of housing that residents of Consett need or can afford.

"The properties will not be affordable and it will therefore become a commuter village."

Objectors raised issues including traffic congestion, road safety, parking pressure, emissions, light and noise pollution, flooding, fly-tipping, contamination, covenants, energy efficiency, dog fouling, broadband speed, loss of privacy, light, views, landscape, wildlife and habitats, and impact on residents' mental health.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) also objected.

Planning officers recommended approval with conditions including more than £1m contributions from the developer to open space, paths, a community centre, GP capacity and secondary education.

They said the loss of 16.65ha of agricultual land was "not significant" and the objections were not enough to justify refusal.

Councillors will also consider a plan to build 148 two to four-bedroom houses and bungalows near Colliery Road, Bearpark.

Developer Gleeson Regeneration said it would provide much-needed quality homes, jobs and about £12.5m spend in the area.

There were 11 letters of objection and a petition with 10 signatures.

Concerns included traffic congestion, access, speeding near a school, loss of wildlife and green space, pressure on facilities, nuisance, construction noise, air quality, flooding, privacy, crime and house values.

Two letters of support said the proposals would be good for the village, school, economy and amenities.

Planning officers said the impacts could be mitigated with contributions of almost £800,000 towards open space, school places, healthcare and biodiversity.

The final proposals are for 97 homes with two to five bedrooms, including bungalows, near Darlington Road, Barnard Castle.

Yorkshire-based builder Stonebridge Homes said their first County Durham scheme was a "high-quality, beautiful and sustainable development" with electric vehicle charging points, generous open spaces and a community lending library scheme.

They said they would invest £17 in construction, with 150 direct jobs and £1.5m annual retail spending power for future residents stimulating more jobs and investment. 

Marwood Parish Council objected, citing the importance of protecting a "unique and picturesque market town from urban sprawl", with concerns including local services, ecology, parking and the sewer network.

Members of the public made 38 representations, with 34 objections raising the adverse impact on Barnard Castle, traffic, road safety, layout, inadequate landscaping, design, lack of open space, drainage and flooding.

One letter of support highlighted demand for housing and a "well thought-out" layout with plenty of green space, with three neutral responses.

Planning officers recommended approval for this scheme too, with conditions.