A north-east chicken farm has been given permission to expand despite objections from local residents and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Manor Farm, Neasham, near Darlington, has been told that it can add an additional fourth chicken house to its current operation.

This will allow an additional 24,000 chickens to be kept, bringing total numbers to 105,000.

The residents and the CPRE said they had tolerated the initial phases of the development, expecting there  would be no further expansion.

But now they were concerned that the integrity of the hamlet of Neasham, where there were seven listed buildings, could be harmed.

Darlington Borough Councillor Geoff Walker said: “There are seven listed buildings within just a few hundred yards. It is a very historical part of the borough. I am concerned that this style of factory farming is getting bigger and bigger.”

But the councillors, following the recommendations of planners, backed the proposals.