People in County Durham are being invited to help shape the future of their area by taking part in three major consultations.
Durham County Council will be asking people for their views on the latest stage of the County Durham Plan as well as two new strategies looking at housing and homelessness.
The consultations began on Friday (January 25) with a number of drop-in sessions taking place around the county.
One of them is due to be held at Newton Aycliffe Youth and Community Centre on Tuesday, February 12, 4-7pm.
Following the approval of the Pre-Submission Draft of the County Durham Plan by Cabinet, the final round of public consultation will give people the chance to comment on the documents, which set out potential development in the county until 2035.
The plan will then be submitted to Government ahead of an independent examination in public.
This stage of the plan process specifically focuses on whether the plan is legally and procedurally compliant and sound althoughfeedback on any parts of the plan can be given.
Everyone who has taken part in the extensive consultations already carried out will be contacted directly to ensure their views are heard.
Cllr Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The response to the consultations so far has been fantastic and residents and businesses from across the county have helped to shape the future of County Durham set out in the plan.
“We’ve now reached the last stage of the public consultation and we hope that everyone continues to have their say on a plan which we firmly believe will deliver a successful future for the county while protecting and enhancing what already makes it such a great place to live, work and visit.”
People can find out more about the County Durham Plan and how to have their say at www.durham.gov.uk/future or by attendingone of the drop-in sessions.
The council is also consulting on strategies, developed with partners, which aim to tackle housing issues and provide support to County Durham’s homeless.
The County Durham Housing Strategy seeks to identify issues residents face in terms of housing and sets out ways to address them such as targeting future actions and investment. This includes providing homes that meet the needs of older people, improving standards in the private rented sector, working to bring long term empty properties back into use and maximising the delivery of affordable homes.
The County Durham Homelessness Strategy aims to set out anapproach and key actions towards preventing homelessness across the county over the next three years.
The strategy includes action plans for each of its three key aims which include preventing homelessness by early intervention, increasing access to and supply of accommodation and providing a range of support services to those at risk alongside partner agencies.
Cllr Kevin Shaw, Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, said: “The Housing Strategy puts people first focussing on raising standards in the private sector, delivering the right homes in the right places to meet the needs of all of our communities, and bringing more empty homes back into use.
“We are also committed to building more homes for the elderly and that new housing is of good quality and design whilst ensuring it is supported by the right infrastructure including health and education.
“Our approach has also allowed us flexibility to respond to any future funding opportunities as and when they may become available.
“We will not only look to continue our work on preventing homelessness through early intervention, but by increasing access to supply and providing essential support and we are open to how we can improve this even further in the future. So we’d encourage everyone to let us know what they think about our plans.”
More information about the strategies and how people can get involved is available at the drop-in sessions or online at http://www.durham.gov.uk/consultation.
The drop-in sessions take place as follows where staff will be on hand to talk about all three consultations:
Wednesday 30 January – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Peterlee East Durham College
Thursday 31 January – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Chester le Street, Parish Centre
Monday 4 February – 3:30pm – 6:30pm – Framwellgate Moor Community Centre
Monday 4 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Stanley, Civic Hall
Wednesday 6 February – 3:30pm – 6:00pm – Meadowfield Leisure Centre
Thursday 7 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Bishop Auckland Town Hall
Friday 8 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Barnard Castle Hub
Monday 11 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Seaham Town Hall
Tuesday 12 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Newton Aycliffe, Youth and Community Centre
Wednesday 13 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Durham City Town Hall
Thursday 14 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Newton Hall, Abbey Leisure Centre
Friday 15 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Consett, St Patricks Hall
Monday 18 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Bearpark Community Centre
Tuesday 19 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Crook, St Catherine’s Community Centre
Thursday 21 February – 3:30pm – 6:00pm – Wolsingham Town Hall
Thursday 21 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Newton Hall All Saints Church
Monday 25 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Ferryhill Dean Bank Institute
Tuesday 26 February – 4.00pm – 7.00pm – Spennymoor Town Hall
Thursday 28 February – 4:00pm – 7:00pm – Willington Methodist Church