Place scrutiny committee discuss Darlington Council's Making and Growing Places document

The Advertiser Series: Around 6,000 new houses could be built in Darlington over the next decade Around 6,000 new houses could be built in Darlington over the next decade

DARLINGTON Borough Council’s vision for where future development should take place in the borough has been examined by a scrutiny committee.

The Making and Growing Places draft document outlines where the council is considering allowing the development of around 6,000 houses, plus amenities and new business premises across the borough up to 2026.

It received 2,300 responses during a seven-week consultation in the summer and Steve Petch, the council’s head of strategy, said every comment received has been individually analysed and taken into account.

He told a meeting of the place scrutiny committee today (Friday, December 20) that the council had to balance the need for housing for future generations with the concerns of existing residents and the views of developers.

He said: “It is very much about where we want to see development in the future, but also where we don’t want development and where we want to protect.

“These documents by their nature do tend to get objections rather than support, but we did get some support from organisations like Natural England, and people supported the consultation process even if they didn’t support the document; they were pleased to see us out and appreciated what we were doing.”

Mr Petch said that as expected, the majority of objections came from residents living closest to land with the largest earmarked developments, such as Branksome which could have 650 houses built on surrounding green land.

Despite these objections, Mr Petch said the Branksome site would remain part of the strategic plan but the council wanted to work with existing residents on elements such as housing layout, infrastructure and green space to find the best way forward.

Committee chair Dorothy Long said that the protection of Darlington’s industrial heritage was a key issue and there was some discussion over what changes could be made to the town centre to ensure it stays vibrant into the future.

Mr Petch said the council was bound by government policy in certain aspects of grading town centre zones as premium or secondary retail areas, but added that it was important to plan development so that the town centre is fit for purpose into the future.

Coun Long thanked Mr Petch and all the officers who worked on the draft document and said they would look forward to seeing how it progresses.

Officers will now make any necessary changes to the document, before it is undergoes another consultation and is approved by cabinet to go before the government Planning Inspectorate.

It is not expected to be adopted by the council before 2015.

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