Guidance for considering planning applications in County Durham is to be discussed by councillors.
Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be asked to endorse a Policy Position Statement to ensure consistent decisions continue to be made on planning applications when it meets next week.
With the Planning Inspector’s interim report causing an inevitable delay to the County Durham Plan, the council has moved to provide members with a position statement detailing how applications should be considered. The statement is designed to help decision making by setting out how much weight can be given to existing local plans, neighbourhood plans and the County Durham Plan itself alongside the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) when applications are considered.
Where no overarching plan exists, the NPPF is weighted towards approving applications unless the negative impacts significantly outweigh the benefits. With the County Durham Plan proceeding to judicial review and the already existing adopted local plans being between 11 and 19 years old there is a need to recognise how each of these documents should be considered. The statement, if approved by Cabinet, seeks to provide this guidance to allow the council to continue to support growth while respecting the natural environment and world-class heritage of County Durham.
The statement sets out the legal position for considering developments relating to student accommodation, green belt land and affordable housing among others.
Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Although the council is committed to supporting growth to improve County Durham both economically and socially, we’re acutely aware that residents are concerned about inappropriate development. This statement is vital to ensure that planning applications are dealt with in a consistent and sensitive manner while making sure that appropriate development and investment that could benefit the county isn’t delayed.”
Cabinet will consider the statement when members meet on 10 June at County Hall.