Go-ahead for 800 homes on unallocated Darlington sites

Plans for over 800 homes on currently unallocated sites around Darlington in Durham were approved this week, despite the council having a six year housing land supply.

Darlington (pic: Christopher Hilton via Geograph)
Darlington (pic: Christopher Hilton via Geograph)

Darlington Borough Council granted outline consent for a 380 home development on a 17 hectare greenfield site at Burtree Lane to the north of the town.

A officers' planning report, which recommended approval, said that the plans would be contrary to saved policies in its Darlington Local Plan 1997, and the Darlington Core Strategy Development Plan Document 2011.

These conflicts related to policies around development outside of settlement boundaries, and the fact that part of the proposed site would be in a designated "Open Land Network".

The report also said that the council could currently demonstrate a six year housing land supply and, as such, the National Planning Policy Framework’s (NPPF) presumption in favour of sustainable development would not apply.

But planners said that the site was part of "a wider area which is identified as a potential strategic location for residential development" in the council’s emerging local plan.

"Despite the conflict with these policies, the application site is an area which the council considers to be suitable for housing development … and are proposing for allocation in the emerging local plan".

Planners said that the development would make "a valuable contribution to the council achieving a five year supply of housing land and boosting significantly the supply of housing in the borough".

They said that the visual impact of the development on the Open Land Network "has been taken into account and whilst design and layout has been reserved for future submissions, it is acknowledged that a housing development can be designed to be in keeping with the character and appearance of the surrounding residential area".

A second outline application for 370 homes on a neighbouring site was also approved by the council after planners reached a similar conclusion.

A third application, for outline consent for 95 homes on a site at Hurworth Moor to the south of the town, was also approved. Planners again recognised that the scheme would be contrary to existing local planning policy on settlement boundaries.

But they said that the application site was also in an area which the council considers to be suitable for housing development and is proposing for allocation in the emerging local plan.

"The proposed development is considered to be acceptable in terms of its impact on ecology, trees, archaeology, character and appearance of the countryside, Highways and sustainable transport, surface water and flood risk and contamination", the report concluded.

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