OPPONENTS of the controversial Derwenthorpe scheme have vowed to push for a public inquiry, after York city councillors backed the proposed "new village".

Protesters from Osbaldwick, Tang Hall and Meadlands, who lobbied councillors before yesterday's planning meeting, warned afterwards that the battle was just beginning.

After speeches and debate lasting more than six hours, City of York Council's planning committee supported the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's (JRF) outline application for a 540-home sustainable settlement on mainly council-owned land on York's eastern outskirts.

The application will now be referred to the Government, which will decide whether or not to call it in for an inquiry. More than 75 people packed the Guildhall for the meeting.

The main concerns were the impact of extra traffic on neighbouring communities, and access to the site along four proposed routes - through Osbaldwick, Meadlands, Temple Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

Tom Hughes, of Meadlands Residents Association, said: "This will turn a cul-de-sac into a through road.

"It will transform a quiet residential area."

Catherine Foster, on behalf of Osbaldwick Parish Council, called on the council to invite a public inquiry.

She said the scheme had "laudable aims", but questioned how sustainable it could be when relying on voluntary participation, for example with a car club.

Adrian Wilson, of Temple Avenue Residents' Association, cited concerns over flooding, traffic, loss of wildlife, whether the site should be retained as green field, and contaminated land issues.

He also called for the decision to be put on hold so the JRF could revise its plans and reach compromises with concerned residents.

But the JRF's Nigel Ingram defended the scheme.

He said it offered affordable, accessible housing in a safe traffic environment, with quality family homes and opportunities such as shared ownership.

He said the foundation would also consider increasing the proportion of affordable homes from 35 per cent to 40 per cent.

A traffic consultant commissioned by the JRF, Robert Green, said average morning rush-hour traffic would increase from 2.5 cars a minute to four cars at Fifth Avenue, and from one to two cars a minute at Temple Avenue.

Coun Quentin Macdonald said: "The test is whether we can convince an independent third party. The applicant's are not relying on information that is subjective or misleading."

Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing agreed there were "grave concerns" about traffic, but the information from officers on such issues was "robust".

But Coun Andy D'Agorne, pictured, said the application did not go far enough in sustainability, and called for a public inquiry.

Afterwards, objector Mark Warters said that protesters would "without doubt" be pushing for a public inquiry.

The foundation has warned previously that, if the scheme does not start by the spring, the first phase of government funding towards affordable housing could be lost.

Mr Ingram said after the meeting that he hoped the Secretary of State would agree with the conclusions of the committee.

Updated: 10:14 Tuesday, February 01, 2005