Seaham among the areas to flourish under the County Durham Plan

Councillors will hear how the County Durham Plan has influenced development, housing, and actions against climate change in County Durham.

Next week, Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be presented with an Annual Monitoring Report on the County Durham Plan, which was agreed by councillors in October 2020.

The report will provide Cabinet with an update on how the plan has influenced the county’s growth and development within the last 12 months.

Councillors will hear that, within the last year, approximately 29 hectares of employment land has been approved for development, with over half of this being part of the phase three growth of NETPark.

A further 5.51 hectares of employment land has also been completed, with the development of smaller industrial units at Aycliffe, Belmont, St Helen Auckland, Willington, Consett and South Hetton.

One key priority within the County Durham Plan is housing. In the last year, there has been a total of 1,671 housing completions across the county, exceeding the council’s annual target of 1,308, and of these 536 were affordable homes.

This has allowed the council to work towards a five-year supply of housing in line with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), meaning the County Durham Plan is working well and its policies can continue to be used to determine planning applications.

The County Durham Plan also prioritises the improvement and growth of the county’s town centres, with seven areas in the county now having vacancy rates below the national average.

These include Barnard Castle, Chester-le-Street, Consett, Crook and Ferryhill. Seaham has the lowest vacancy rate within the whole county at just six per cent.

The council’s response to climate change features prominently within the County Durham Plan and there are several policies which support the transition to a low carbon economy.

Policies within the plan encourage renewable energy development where it is appropriate, and give significant weight to the social, environmental, and economic benefits of renewable development.

The report to councillors will show there has been a growth in renewable energy generation from 505,899 Megawatt hours in 2018 to 545,522 Megawatt hours this year.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “The County Durham Plan sets out a vision for housing, jobs and the environment until 2035, and was agreed by councillors with the shared ambition of developing the county to meet the needs of its communities.

“It is promising to see that, in just one year alone, the plan has already been influential in ensuring any developments are made in the best interests of the county, its residents, and the environment. We are delighted to see the progress that has been made in line with the plan and are keen to see it play a part in shaping the county into a fantastic place to live, work and visit.”

Cabinet will hear more details when it meets on Wednesday, 14 December at 9.30am. Members of the public can attend in person or view the meeting live via the council’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/DurhamCouncil

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