Consultations

The Trust responds to local or national consultations as they affect the City of Durham. The consultation issue is briefly summarised below and the Trust’s full response is available for viewing and download.

Parking and Accessibility Supplementary Planning Document
In 2019 Durham County Council (DCC) declared a climate emergency. Transport is one of the top three priorities identified for action in DCC’s Climate Emergency Response: Action Plan 2020 to 202, but the need to reduce car journeys is not recognised in the action plan. Against this backdrop DCC has produced a Parking and Accessibility SPD: Issues and Options Consultation document which is narrow in scope and does not make full use of the powers available to the authority to promote sustainable transport in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework. The Trust’s response includes a detailed analysis of the issue, looks at actions taken by other councils as exemplars, and makes recommendations on how the SPD could be improved and made more effective. SPD consultation webpage.

Article 4 Direction
The City of Durham Trust is pleased to support the proposed Article 4 Direction for the areas of Mount Oswald, Belmont and Carrville. The four reasons given by Durham County Council are entirely valid and were explained very clearly in the recent consultation events. They are also supported by the City of Durham Parish Council’s excellent evidence report. The Trust agrees with the Parish Council that eventually the whole Parish area should be covered by an Article 4 Direction, but that should follow as a result of a separate proposal and consultation process. We have no intention of delaying the implementation of the current proposal. The Trust would also wish to see the forthcoming significant housing developments at Bent House Lane and Sniperley Park protected from the development of HMOs. They have unbalanced many older parts of the City and we would not wish the same to happen to these new areas. We understand that an Article 4 Direction cannot be applied to areas as yet unbuilt, but we think that planning conditions should be applied to protect them. Multiple occupancy homes webpage Article 4 consultation webpage

Supporting housing delivery through a new national permitted development right for the change of use from the Commercial, Business and Service use class to Residential
The Trust’s response highlighted the need to protect conservation areas (such as the Durham City Conservation Area and the World Heritage Site) from adverse effects of such a change. Supporting housing delivery webpage.

North East Transport Plan
The Trust endorses the  overall vision of “Moving to a green, healthy, dynamic and thriving North East”, and accepts in broad terms its stated objectives, but finds its practical suggestions for achieving them woefully inadequate. They do not form a coherent regional strategy and amount to little more than a wish list of projects that the 7 local authorities in the area wish to pursue in the hope of obtaining government funding. It is of particular interest that the plan ignores the key links between County Durham and the Tees Valley which doesn’t come within the remit of the North East Transport Plan. North East Transport Plan webpage.

Sherburn ‘Sustainable Urban Extension’
This is one of the two major housing developments agreed in the Durham County Plan. The other is at Sniperley. These developments will have major impacts on the City of Durham. The Trust has therefore engaged in a number of ways with developers and Durham County Council to try and ensure that high quality, sustainable development will be achieved at these locations, as required by the relevant policies in the Durham County Plan.
The Trust considers that the proposed Bent House Lane development lacks proper consideration of a number of crucial issues: e.g. master planning; sustainable transport; effect on landscape, heritage and the setting of the World Heritage Site; sustainable energy. As a consequence it has objected to the current proposals.

Sniperley ‘Sustainable Urban Extension’
This is one of the two major housing developments agreed in the Durham County Plan. The other is at Sherburn. These developments will have major impacts on the City of Durham. The Trust has therefore engaged in a number of ways with developers and Durham County Council to try and ensure that high quality, sustainable development will be achieved at these locations, as required by the relevant policies in the Durham County Plan.

Planning for the Future
The government has consulted on their proposed changes to the planning system.
The White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ and consultation outcome can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
The Trust thinks this might be summarised as pulling apart a system that it is claimed is already broken without consensus on where problems lie or how they might be remedied. However, there are laudable aspirations that show promise and might gain more general support.
Additionally, a separate consultation was run on ‘Changes to the current planning system’ and the outcome can be seen at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system/outcome/government-response-to-the-local-housing-need-proposals-in-changes-to-the-current-planning-system
The Trust thinks that it is not the planning system that is the obstacle to achieving the Government’s target of at least 300,000 new dwellings per year (90% of planning applications are approved each year), it is finance.
The Trust also submitted these documents to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee on this topic: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/634/the-future-of-the-planning-system-in-england/

Aykley Heads Development
While the Trust remains supportive of this initiative to broaden and develop the economy of the City and County, it idntified a range of concerns with the proposals: these cover the nature of the proposals, their context, arising issues and suggestions for a way forward. Additionally, an appropriate timetable is needed to allow sufficient time to absorb the implications of the Covid pandemic and to ensure that the scheme is not taken forward on the basis of planning and delivery assumptions that are no longer appropriate to changing circumstances.

Making Walking and Cycling Safer
The twin imperatives to facilitate social distancing and to avoid increasing the pressure on public buses will have a clear impact on street use and controlling the flows of pedestrian, cycle and motor traffic. Measures need taking now to re-purpose space on the City’s streets before motor traffic returns to previous volumes. We can regain the streets for pedestrians
and cyclists, plus wheelchair users and pram pushers, if the County Council Highways Authority takes immediate action. This is already being done in cities across the country and is much needed in Durham where street space is at a premium.

Common Land on the Sands
The Trust objected to the County Council’s plans to remove the Common Land from the Sands and replace it with land at Aykley Heads. The Trust supported the views of the City of Durham Parish Council and the Freemen of the City of Durham who are also opposed to this move.

Bus Station
The Trust warmly welcomes Durham County Council’s (DCC’s) decision to reflect earlier consultation responses by abandoning its previous proposals to relocate the bus station. The Trust agrees that redevelopment of the bus station on its present site is the correct way forward. However, the Trust sees issues in the function and design approach to the building.