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Masterplan 'crucial to county's future' - Durham council
UNDER-fire council chiefs have defended a multi-billion pound economic masterplan, while pledging to listen to the public’s views.
Durham County Council’s Labour cabinet today (Wednesday, September 18) backed public consultation on the latest version of the County Durham Plan, which proposes more house building and further intrusion into the greenbelt than any earlier draft.
The number of new homes earmarked for the county by 2030 has increased from 30,000 to 31,400 and greenbelt land near the medieval Crook Hall and Gardens attraction, in Durham City, has been listed for housing.
However, Stuart Timmiss, the council’s head of planning and assets, said the success of the plan was crucial for the future of Durham.
Aware just two-thirds of the county’s working-age adults have jobs – the lowest in the North-East, which has the lowest figure of any region in the country, Mr Timmiss said: “We need to improve the economic performance of the area from where we are today and maximise the opportunities that exist for residents now and in the future.
“We are one of the first authorities to produce a local plan which is designed to deliver real growth and jobs without relying on public sector subsidy and we are confident that it will bring the necessary investment and business to ensure long term sustainability.”
The County Durham Plan is aimed at creating 30,000 new jobs by 2030.
Durham City would get two new bypasses and 5,000 new homes and Aykley Heads would become a world-class business hub.
Alan Napier, the council’s deputy leader, said the council would inform, consult and engage with the public and, while he conceded some people would not like the plan, said the county “must have economic growth”.
He said the plan would become the council’s “bible” but if economic growth could not be achieved it would be “worthless”.
A major public consultation will now take place from October 14 to December 6, before the council submits the final plan to the Government next April.
People will then have the opportunity to make their views known at an examination-in-public in July. The council hopes to adopt the plan next autumn.
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