Consultation on future housing developments in Darlington provokes strong response from local people

The Advertiser Series: Consultation on future housing developments in Darlington provokes strong response from local people Consultation on future housing developments in Darlington provokes strong response from local people

EARLY plans for future housing developments provoked the biggest response from residents in a consultation process looking at how Darlington might grow in the coming decades.

The Making and Growing Places Local Plan, written by Darlington Borough Council, set out proposals for where new housing, businesses, schools, sports facilities, roads and open spaces could be located in the borough up to 2026.

Once complete, the document will form the basis for planning decisions in Darlington, providing an official stance on a range of planning issues.

The council opened the draft document to public consultation over the summer and received hundreds of responses through letters, emails, drop-in meetings and petitions.

A consultation responses document, prepared for the authority’s place scrutiny committee, said the majority of comments from residents centred on potential sites for housing development, with a number of objections.

The council has been informed that it must build about 5,800 dwellings by 2026, but the consultation document notes that, although residents have questioned the need for so many properties, developers and the House Builders Federation have argued that the plan does not provide enough new houses.

The main objections came from residents’ petitions calling for green spaces off Hammond Drive, Skerne Park, Eggleston View, in Branksome, and Hartington Way/Bellburn Lane, off Brinkburn Road to be spared from development.

The report for councillors said: “Not unexpectedly, there has been strong local opposition to development on most of the proposed allocated housing sites.

“Although the reasons vary in detail between sites, there are common threads around the potential impact on local traffic, access difficulties, impact on the local amenity of adjacent properties, impact on biodiversity levels, likely flooding issues, loss of recreational open space, and loss of views and impact on property values (although the latter two are not planning reasons).

“Local residents also generally support the use of brownfield land for new housing before using green fields.” The report also notes that the council is likely to need more sites for housing than first projected, as the current list of potential sites does not leave the authority with any flexibility if some of the housing does not materialise."

The next stage of the draft document will look at specific issues around the town’s retail offer, land availability, a logistics study and an accommodation assessment for Gypsies and travellers.

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