AS PROTESTERS prepare for the start of a lengthy public inquiry tomorrow into two controversial York developments, one campaigner has photographed this field of wild flowers to show what he believes is at stake.

Malcolm Kettlestring, Osbaldwick Parish Council vice-chairman, took a dozen photos recently of the site where the Joseph Rowntree Foundation wants to build Derwenthorpe, a 540-home model village.

He said he had wanted to capture on camera scenes of wild flower meadows and blossoming hedges which would be lost if the scheme went ahead. "It's beautiful now," he said. "I want to show what we are in danger of losing."

He said he had been given permission to pin the pictures up on a display board at York's Guildhall, where the inquiry will be held.

Foundation spokesman Nigel Ingram said today that all such arguments and points of view would be addressed in full during the inquiry.

The hearing, which will also examine plans by Persimmon Homes to build 720 homes on the Germany Beck site at Fulford, is expected to run into six weeks.

Dozens of witnesses are expected to attend to give evidence, with almost a dozen speaking on behalf of the Foundation and another eight for Persimmon, about issues such as planning, landscape, drainage and flooding, ecology, highways, noise, air quality and archaeology.

City of York Council also has several witnesses preparing to give evidence about issues such as housing need, planning, the green belt and traffic, and others will appear on behalf of Osbaldwick and Fulford parish councils, residents' associations, the York Natural Environment Trust, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, York Green Party, and the Fulford Battlefield Society and Battlefield Trust.

Osbaldwick Parish Council has leafleted villagers to explain the objections which it will raise, and also to tell residents how they can speak individually if they register on the first day of the inquiry. The leaflet says the parish will argue that building on the greenfield site would be premature, in advance of York's local development framework being finalised and adopted, and that the existing road network could not accommodate the extra traffic from the village without a significant adverse impact on surrounding neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile, Terry Smith, the prospective Conservative candidate for Osbaldwick, has received a letter from the foundation telling him it has set aside £650,000 for community facilities in the area, with City of York Council undertaking to match this in some form, if Derwenthorpe gets the go-ahead. "It is good that something positive will come out of this if it goes ahead," said Mr Smith.