The City of Durham Trust
The County Durham Plan
Trust responds to the Issues and Options consultation
After receiving legal advice, Durham County Council has been obliged to start preparing the County Durham Plan from the beginning, at the Issues and Options stage. (For the background to all this, see New readers start here)
The City of Durham Trust has now submitted responses on 40 separate matters raised in the Council’s Issues and Options consultation, which ended on August 8th. You can read all of them here. Among the points we make are:
- The target of an employment rate of 73% has been carried forward uncritically from an outdated Sustainable Communities Strategy:
- The goalposts have moved, and 73% today is not the same as 73% in 2007.
- Women’s employment rate has not recovered since the last recession in the way men’s has, and now stands 4% below the North East average. The target is unattainable unless the Council acknowledges and addresses the current imbalance between male and female employment.
- All of the projections of household growth are too high.
- There is a lack of recognition within the Council’s housing options that the majority of the forecast net increase in households will comprise small households headed by an older person.
- There is no need to build houses on the Green Belt.
- The business park at Aykley Heads should not expand into the Green Belt.
- Neither the Northern nor the Western Relief Road is justified.
- The Interim Sustainability Appraisal is only partial in its scope, and its limitations and omissions are of such significance that the document cannot provide a sufficient and robust Sustainability Appraisal for the proposals and options set out in the Council’s Issues and Options consultation. A fuller review is required.
- The Trust’s response on the Sustainable Transport Strategy concludes that it is a research and consultancy report, not a strategy. It fails to meet the key test of any strategy to explain how policy goals will be secured. It is also not sustainable as it does not explain how it will be implemented, funded and ultimately sustained.
The County Durham Plan is important for everyone in County Durham because it will set out the new development that is planned for the county. It contains allocations which show where development will take place and how it will be managed. The Plan also contains policies for determining planning applications. As long as there is planning uncertainty developers will seek to exploit this by pursuing their financial interests regardless of the needs of local communities.