The City of Durham Trust is dismayed at the approval today by the County Planning Committee of the planning application for 500 houses at Bent House Lane, promoted by Banks Property Ltd.
The Trust accepts the principle of housing on this site, but argues that the plans fail to live up to the qualities set in the new County Durham Plan.
The County Plan is very clear: a comprehensive master plan is required. The masterplan proposed by Banks is simply “possibilities” and does not demonstrate how the phasing of the development will be achieved, where the affordable housing will go, where much-needed accessible bungalows will go, or require a carbon-neutral development.
At 500, the number of houses being proposed significantly exceeds the 420 specifically set in the County Plan, and the Trust is concerned that the impact of these extra houses will harm the inner setting of the World Heritage Site and the much-loved green belt landscape enjoyed by local people.
The County Plan includes very important policies to secure sustainable transport improvements, giving people more choice to travel by bus, walking and cycling. These policies were almost wholly disregarded in the report to the County Planning Committee. Cycle lanes and better bus services would have improved the environment for the whole neighbourhood. Instead, the additional car trips generated by the site will add to the noise and air pollution, increasing danger for existing residents, and adding to greenhouse gas emissions.
John Lowe, Chair of the Trust commented: “The Trust regarded this major development as a significant test of the County Plan. Years of careful policy work have been wasted when councillors could and should have demanded better from the developer.”
Along with other objectors, The Trust gave detailed suggestions of how the development could be designed to be the modern, beautiful, environmentally friendly and sustainable place that would benefit residents and enhance the City. However, unfortunately these suggestions have not been taken on board. Durham residents do deserve better!