Villagers take on homes battle; Bid to build near Roman site.
VILLAGERS have pledged to fight plans to build 95 homes next to a Roman archaeological site in County Durham.
An unnamed developer wants to build the homes on fields off Cadger Bank, Lanchester.
The development could form part of the County Durham plan, which aims to provide 30,000 new homes in the county. But residents packed a meeting of Lanchester Parish Council where they made clear their opposition to county council planner Mike Allum.
Mr Allum had been invited by the parish council to explain the County Durham plan, which is aimed at rejuvenating the county's economy.
Lanchester is regarded as a potential commuter site for the sort of high-flyers the council wants to attract to bring new businesses and investment into the county.
But resident Judith Cole told the hearing: "The Cadger Bank site was deemed unsuitable back in 1988. I have a newspaper headline from then which says Developer Defeated by the Romans. What is different now? An influx of extra traffic going down Cadger Bank was considered dangerous by highway officers back then. It is certainly no better now."
Steve Bailey, from Briardene, Lanchester, said a survey carried out in the village asking households what they thought of the development had attracted 646 against and only 27 in favour. Mr Bailey added: "It is interesting indeed to see a planner's report from 24 years ago which opposed the development, saying, and I quote, 'Access would be dangerous leading on to a steep hill.' "Nowadays there are more cars and they travel faster. It would be ludicrous to say the access would be safe now if it was unsafe back then."
The site is adjacent to the remains of the Roman fort of Longovicium. It was situated between the forts of Vindomora (Ebchester), and Vinovia (Binchester) on Dere Street, the main Roman road linking Eboracum (York) with Hadrian's Wall and beyond.
Parish councillor Kevin Leary said: "I would be very disappointed if any building work interfered with Roman remains."
The potential for an increased risk of flooding, and of subsidence from mine shafts, were also cited by residents as reasons to oppose the development.
Mr Allum told the hearing that the views of villagers would be taken into consideration when the County Durham plan was being finalised.