Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the latest version of the blueprint for the development of the county at a special meeting of Cabinet this week.
Following the fourth extensive consultation with residents, businesses and key stakeholders, including neighbouring authorities, the latest version of the County Durham Plan will be put before Cabinet on Wednesday (September 18).
At the meeting, Cabinet will be asked to approve the plan to allow it to go out for final consultation in the autumn before it’s submission to the Secretary of State.
The plan is Durham County Council’s strategic planning document for the county up until 2030, setting out where land for new business, housing, shopping and infrastructure will be. The aim of the plan is to deliver a thriving economy whilst protecting the heritage and character of County Durham.
The latest version has been informed by public feedback as well as changes in planning law and the latest evidence and available information such as the updated census results and economic trends. There are a number of sites which, due to local information and more detailed survey work, have been taken out of the plan, such as at Picktree, Consett and Lanchester. This process has also identified alternative sites, ensuring we meet the future needs of the area.
Responding to this information will also see a small increase in the number of new homes to be built over the course of the plan from 30,000 to 31,400.
Land allocated for employment has been updated in response to changes in the local economy to allow for a more flexible approach. The allocation in the Newton Aycliffe area has also been increased to ensure the county is in the best position to take advantage of the economic benefits the Hitachi factory and associated supply chain will bring to the area. The current economic climate and the changes in how people shop has also resulted in a reduction in the floor-space allocated for retail use to 9,500 square metres.
The plan also provides a more detailed review of Green Belt Policy throughout the county and a large new designation is included to the North of Consett and Stanley as a result of collaboration with colleagues in Gateshead.
To support the growth of the county, the plan aims to increase and encourage sustainable transport throughout the county. However, to overcome specific issues within Durham City the construction of the western relief road is still required by 2021and a northern relief road by 2030.
Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The County Durham Plan is one of the most important documents the council has produced since becoming a unitary authority. This will shape the future of the county for the next twenty years, helping to develop a thriving economy, promoting business and providing homes whilst protecting the key aspects of this historical and beautiful county.
“While this is a difficult balance, we believe the plan identifies the most sustainable way of ensuring we are best placed to deliver the jobs and homes which will be needed.
“The plan will help to resolve many of the issues that we currently face as well as providing a future for the next generation.”
If approved by Cabinet, the plan will go out for final formal consultation between 14 October and 6 December. The plan will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination by a Planning Inspector in March 2014 before the examination in public during the summer.