Proposals to build a new £100m village in Houghton have been opposed by residents.
Esh Developers have submitted plans to build a site with an estimated 500 new houses and shops in Philadelphia, Houghton-Le-Spring.
Other expected work includes an environmental walk, a petrol filling station and a business enterprise site which is expected to create jobs. Currently the area is unused after several companies closed down factories in the compound.
The move has brought negative reactions from Philadelphia residents who oppose the decision.
Independent Councillor and resident of the area, Colin Wakefield said: “The idea is to create a new mini town almost. An increase in new houses will bring a lot more people into Houghton-Le-Spring.
“I’m not so sure, there are houses being built at a massive rate in this area in nearby places such as Hetton, Fencehouses and Burnside. If people are to buy these houses they need money and jobs but both of these aren’t always available.
“I would have liked to see less residential building of houses and more redevelopment of the current buildings to provide jobs and opportunities around here.”
John Shaw, from Newbottle, believes it may damage an area of natural beauty in Philadelphia.
Mr Shaw said: “I’ve lived nearby for some time now and always enjoyed the fact we have fields and land there. We often go for walks through the woods and I believe that if they build in this area, it will cause great harm to all the wildlife. That’s not to mention all the people that use the land recreationally.”
Defenders of the proposals have cited the increase in job opportunities as a major positive effect of the work.
Esh Developments Managing Director Geoff Woodcock spoke of the great benefits to the area.
He said: “The overall idea remains to treble employment. We very much hope these plans are looked upon favourably.”
The site is due to begin work later this year with an aim to be finished completely by 2030.