A £70,000 traffic scheme will improve road safety but could cause more delays in a congested village, councillors have heard.

Members of a Durham County Council planning committee heard the scheme had already been agreed for around Browney Lane and the A690 in Meadowfield prior to the meeting at County Hall on Tuesday.

Councillors were being asked to approve an amendment to the new housing estate, already under construction in Browney, to increase the number of homes by 21.

They debated the plans last month, but deferred the decision because council highways officers did not attend and were unable to answer questions on why traffic lights had not been installed at the junction between Browney Lane and the A690, despite a planning condition requiring them to be installed when the 50th house was built.

It has not been possible to find a safe way of installing traffic lights because of the position of the filling station opposite the entrance to Browney Lane.

Dave Wafer, the council’s strategic traffic manager, said it was “extremely regrettable and unusual”. He said: “It’s unsatisfactory. It’s unusual we recommend an action we then can’t deliver.

“There is always a limit to how much detailed design the council can do.

“In retrospect maybe we should have looked at it in more detail but it’s easy to say that with so many years hindsight.”

A new condition was agreed by council officers last week, which means developers Avant homes will pay for £68,700 of traffic improvements, including a vehicle-activated speed sign, a new 20mph zone outside the primary school, a new crossing and pedestrian refuge on the A690 and changes to Central Avenue.

Mr Wafer told members the changes would improve road safety but could mean more delays for motorists.

Meadowfield’s cllr John Turnbull said: “We have worked hard to come with a solution but this junction is a serious problem. Since the last meeting we have had two bad motor accidents and a lady knocked down because of the volume of traffic.

“I would like to think we can work further to resolve the problems in that area.”

Following a long wrangle in the council chambers, councillors voted to approve the proposal to amend the development so Avant Homes can replace 50 of the already approved houses with 71 smaller ones, resulting in a finished development of 291 homes.

Councillors heard the additional 21 houses would have a “negligible” impact on road safety.

Cllr Charlie Kay said: “We are looking at this in the rear view mirror and it’s happened five years ago. It’s regrettable. I have enormous sympathy with the local members but this application is only 21 houses.”