Durham County Council has welcomed a planning inspector’s latest response to its proposals to create thousands of jobs and new homes.
The local authority welcomed the initial feedback it has received from the inspector who oversaw the public examination of the proposed County Durham Plan, which paves the way for its ambitious vision of thousands of new jobs and homes right across County Durham.
The plan sets out a range of development proposals as well as planning policies for the county until 2035.
This will ensure that the right homes are developed in the right places to meet the needs of residents, including a mix of affordable properties for the elderly on each and every site.
The plan is expected to facilitate up to 30,000 new jobs at locations right across the county including key economic sites at Newton Aycliffe, Durham and Seaham.
It also looks at ensuring the protection of the historic and natural environment and how infrastructure will come forward to support development, such as new or expanded schools, healthcare provision and community facilities.
The plan was agreed by the council last summer and submitted to the government, with an examination in public carried out by an independent planning inspector later last year.
During and since that hearing the council submitted a number of proposed modifications to the inspector.
He is now satisfied that, at this stage of the examination, they will address any ‘soundness’ issues and therefore is comfortable that it can proceed towards adoption.
The inspector has accepted the plan, subject to the agreed modifications, which includes:
• The quantity of housing and employment land – the plan envisages 24,852 new homes across the county and over 300 hectares of new land being allocated specifically for business and industry development, including the Aykley Heads site.
• Green Belt deletions at Aykley Heads, Sniperley Park and Sherburn Road.
• Twenty seven housing allocations.
• Affordable and older persons housing – the plan proposes that between ten and 25 per cent of homes in all developments are affordable. A proportion would have to be designed for older people.
Cllr Carl Marshall, the council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We are really pleased that the plan has progressed this far and that the inspector has accepted our ambitious strategy in terms of creating the jobs and housing we believe are crucial to ensuring County Durham remains a thriving place to live, work and visit for generations to come.
“The plan aims to build on the £3.4 billion of investment already planned across the county, supporting economic growth and creating more and better jobs for residents by delivering schemes like Aykley Heads business park. The investment in housing will see this total double.
“It is also about ensuring homes are provided in locations close to employment sites, reducing the need to travel and making sure the housing that is delivered meets the needs of residents.”
Within his recommended modifications, the inspector has advised that the plan’s proposals for two relief roads on the outskirts of Durham City and a third at Barnard Castle be removed.
Cllr Marshall added: “We are naturally disappointed about the relief roads as the proposals for them we felt added to the economic opportunities for the county and would benefit communities by reducing congestion and air pollution. However we acknowledge the difficult balance between growth and sustainability and accept the inspector’s recommendations.”
The council will now address the inspector’s proposed modifications and respond to him. A further six weeks of consultation will then be held on the modifications with any responses being passed on to the inspector, who will consider them and then publish his final findings.