Durham Tees Valley Airport owners Peel have welcomed what they describe as “a very positive” decision to approve proposals to build hundreds of homes on the site, despite a high-profile campaign against the plans.
The decision to support the grant of planning permission for developments on the airport site was made by Darlington councillors on Wednesday.
Peel, which bought the airport in 2003, wants to build 350 homes on land close to the main terminal.
The development is also set to include up to 2,000 sqm of retail space and 2,000 sqm of community facilities including a health centre, dental surgery, nursery, restaurants and gym.
The proposals considered by the Darlington Council’s Planning Applications Committee were for developments on land on the North side of the airport, including residential development and a local services centre for retail, commercial, leisure and community uses.
Peel say the proposals are a key element in implementing a strategy set out in their Airport Master Plan to secure the “sustainable, long-term future” of the airport, promising that the revenue generated from these developments would be “fully re-invested” in the airport business.
However, the decision has infuriated many Teessiders who have campaigned against the plans, with campaign leader Norman Coad saying: “We want our airport back to go to destinations the public want.”
The airport has taken centre stage in the campaigns of those standing to be the first elected mayor of the Tees Valley, with Conservative candidate Ben Houchen vowing to bring the airport back into public ownership, while Labour rival Sue Jeffrey – a director of the airport – proposing to establish an Enterprise Zone and improve transport links.
Key elements in the outline planning application include a residential development of up to 350 houses with provision for local services centre with small scale retail space, financial and professional services, restaurants and other leisure facilities. Community facilities are also part of the application.
The application also includes a commitment for Peel to invest in improvements in local services, including education, affordable housing, highways and transport infrastructure.
This will include financial contributions to the expansion of St George’s Church Primary School in Middleton St George, improvements to the A66, adjacent playing fields, upgrades to existing bus stops and new stops, improving and widening footpaths, extending cycle routes and enhanced street lighting on Yarm Road.
In a statement following the decision, the airport owners welcomed the recognition of the importance of the developments in securing the investment needed to deliver the Master Plan aimed at putting the business on a more secure footing, and the wider benefits for the area.