SCORES of angry York residents have spelt out a blunt message to planning chiefs: "No to Disasterthorpe."

People from Osbaldwick, Tang Hall and Meadlands lobbied City of York Council planning committee members during a meeting yesterday, on the site of the proposed new model village, Derwenthorpe.

The committee looks set to consider the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's (JRF) outline application for a 540-home settlement on York's eastern outskirts later this year. But some of the protesters claimed yesterday that councillors had already made up their minds to approve the project, which has been drawn up by the JRF in partnership with the council and which will mostly be built on council-owned land.

"The decision has been made," cried one demonstrator, prompting pleas from committee chairwoman Ann Reid for residents not to heckle. She said councillors were there not to debate the application, but to examine the site, and also stressed that the committee was separate from other parts of the council.

Coun Quentin Macdonald said the committee would decide independently whether or not to approve the scheme.

Residents took the opportunity to leave councillors in no doubt about their strong opposition.

Councillors got off their minibus to be greeted by a huge banner stating: "No To Disasterthorpe," and hoardings erected along the route of the site visit proclaimed messages such as: "To be killed by JRF."

Protesters made it clear that their biggest concerns focused on access to the site along four proposed routes - through Osbaldwick, Meadlands, Temple Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

One man, Stanley Jacques, of Hambleton Avenue, said he was not opposed to the site being developed.

"It's the traffic coming in and out that's the problem.

"Why don't they build a link road through to the bypass?"

Tom Hughes, of the Meadlands Residents Association, claimed there had been no proper consultation with residents since January, even though changes had been made to the original proposals.

Nigel Ingram, of the JRF, said later that the foundation had had a representative present at the meeting to answer any questions from councillors.

Asked to comment on the opposition expressed by residents, he said: "We have always respected residents' democratic right to air their views."

Updated: 10:27 Friday, October 22, 2004