Durham County Council bosses approve latest version of County Durham Plan

A major shake-up on planning rules could be worth about GBP3bn to County Durham . County bosses gave the green light to the latest draft of the County Durham Plan on Wednesday, paving the way for almost 25,000 new homes by 2035. It follows almost three years of work on the current policy, which received about 2,900 comments from more than 1,000 responders during its final round of public consultation.

Coun Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “It’s been a very long and protracted journey to ensure we have an evidence-based plan to bring before council, with a pipeline of projects worth an estimated GBP3bn.

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“Housing and infrastructure in sustainable locations is key to delivering opportunities for County Durham, to deliver housing where it’s needed. “This address the causes of climate change, sets out [proposals for a] reduction in takeaways and identify infrastructure top relieve congestion and improve air quality.”

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Following the full council’s decision to approve the latest draft of the County Durham Plan – which was passed with 61 votes in favour and 36 against – the document will now be submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government at the end of the month. The government will then appoint a planning inspector, who will hold a [public examination of the plan, before making suggesting any changes to the final version.

Speaking this morning’s meeting, several opposition councillors spoke against the plan, repeating criticisms it focused too much on Durham City at the expense of the rest of the county. The county council’s previous attempt to complete a plan was scrapped in 2016 following a demanding assessment by an independent planning inspector and subsequent legal challenge. “It’s a plan for the whole of the county and contains policies seeking to create jobs and homes for local people and maintain the built and rural environment,” said Iain Thompson, the council’s corporate director of regeneration and local services.

“Key issues raised include quantity of development, where housing allocations go, the green belt and growth around the City of Durham.

“The plan is now entering its final stage and there will inevitably be amendments, but we will now have a plan which gives certainty to our businesses and residents.”

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