Darlington Borough Council to sell off 26 acres of greenbelt land for housing

Darlington and Stockton Times: HOUSING BOOM?: New homes are needed to meet a growing population in Darlington HOUSING BOOM?: New homes are needed to meet a growing population in Darlington

COUNCIL chiefs are expected to approve plans to sell off almost 26 acres of greenbelt farm land in an effort to stave off a future housing crisis.

Muscar House Farm, off Barmpton Lane, on the outskirts of Darlington, has been earmarked as the largest of eight sites officials feel can help meet the borough’s demand for new homes sites in the years to come.

Between 80 and 90 new homes could be accommodated on the site, in the Whinfield ward, according to a report prepared for members of Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet, ahead of a meeting next week.

Members will be asked to declare the eight sites surplus to requirements and approve them being put up for sale.

Muscar House Farm has been discussed as potentially suitable for housing in the past, but officials stopped short of designating it as a development site.

The report says the proposals for Muscar House Farm excludes a site ring-fenced for a future 50-plot extension to the existing Barmpton Lane allotments.

It adds: "Any proposed development will need to include a significant buffer zone along the green infrastructure and wildlife corridor associated with the River Skerne.

“It would need to avoid areas at risk from flooding, and highway improvements to Barmpton Lane are likely to be needed.

“Any development would also need to include play space, retain hedges where possible, and include links to the public rights of way network.”

Of the eight sites to be considered by the cabinet, Muscar House Farm is by far the largest.

The rest are all in urban areas of the borough, with the next-largest a 6.5 acre site at Alexander Street and Blackett Road.

Despite the disparity in size between the ‘urban fringe’ site at Muscar House Farm and others in built-up areas, members are being encouraged to give priority to development proposals in these smaller parcels of land.

The proposed land sales will help meet an immediate need for more new housing that has arisen following a shortfall in building against targets.

It will also offset a much-reduced expectation of new homes on the council’s flagship Town Centre Fringe and Central Park developments.

A loss of funding for the Town Centre Fringe and alternative demand for land at Central Park have led to the council revising down, by some 450, its estimates for the number of houses these developments could ultimately accommodate.

Other areas under consideration of being sold off to developers include:

• Land north of Red Hall (6 acres);

• Land off Glebe Road (1.85 acres);

• Open space off Lime Avenue, excluding the existing recreation ground (1.4 acres);

• Land to the rear of Tyne Crescent (0.79 acres);

• A small piece of land at Upper Russell Street (0.07 acres);

• Land to the rear of Bamburgh Place (0.76 acres);

• Land at Alexander Street/Blackett Road (6.57 acres).

Council leader Bill Dixon said the authority needed to have a supply of land for housing, with the population of Darlington growing by about 3,500 people per year.

The cabinet meets at 5pm on Tuesday (February 4), at Darlington Town Hall.

Comments (11)

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8:39am Fri 31 Jan 14

Homshaw1 says...

A council that seems desperate to get money from wherever it can and with a massive say in whether development should be allowed doesn't seem an ideal setup.
A council that seems desperate to get money from wherever it can and with a massive say in whether development should be allowed doesn't seem an ideal setup. Homshaw1
  • Score: 15

9:36am Fri 31 Jan 14

Ian James says...

As long as they are not building on land on the south side of the town, thats fine and keep it over the North end coz the countryside around the south side is much nicer than over Whinfield and North Road. Other than along the Skerne at Barmpton, which is protected anyway, there is'nt much else and would be an improvement to the area, I think.
As long as they are not building on land on the south side of the town, thats fine and keep it over the North end coz the countryside around the south side is much nicer than over Whinfield and North Road. Other than along the Skerne at Barmpton, which is protected anyway, there is'nt much else and would be an improvement to the area, I think. Ian James
  • Score: -8

9:57am Fri 31 Jan 14

PJ Chingford says...

It's NOT Green Belt!
It's NOT Green Belt! PJ Chingford
  • Score: 5

11:37am Fri 31 Jan 14

lingling29 says...

if darlington is desperate for housing, where are all these un-housed people at now ????
are they on park benches ? sleeping in shop doorways or subways ? because ive never seen these hundreds of people that DBC are desperate to build houses for, and destroy our greenery in the process
if darlington is desperate for housing, where are all these un-housed people at now ???? are they on park benches ? sleeping in shop doorways or subways ? because ive never seen these hundreds of people that DBC are desperate to build houses for, and destroy our greenery in the process lingling29
  • Score: 9

12:25pm Fri 31 Jan 14

RoyFayse says...

The council will approve house building plans because, er, that's what you do, isn't it? The Government says so. You get a lot more council tax from a nice new house than a field. The fact that these houses do not directly address any housing problem isn't relevant - it's economic activity (good!) to be payed for by people getting mortgages in the future. Never had a problem with that in the past (have we?) Building more private housing estates is addressing an economic problem, not a housing one. Good quality, high density, public housing, particularly in town centres - now that would help the immediate problems - but our economic model doesn't support it.
The council will approve house building plans because, er, that's what you do, isn't it? The Government says so. You get a lot more council tax from a nice new house than a field. The fact that these houses do not directly address any housing problem isn't relevant - it's economic activity (good!) to be payed for by people getting mortgages in the future. Never had a problem with that in the past (have we?) Building more private housing estates is addressing an economic problem, not a housing one. Good quality, high density, public housing, particularly in town centres - now that would help the immediate problems - but our economic model doesn't support it. RoyFayse
  • Score: 7

1:31pm Fri 31 Jan 14

D. Hop says...

The fact is that in 2+ years, with the current predictions, our council could well go bust. This is due to massively reduced government funding. Therefore they will do anything to try and generate extra cash.
The fact is that in 2+ years, with the current predictions, our council could well go bust. This is due to massively reduced government funding. Therefore they will do anything to try and generate extra cash. D. Hop
  • Score: 4

2:12pm Fri 31 Jan 14

oliviaden6 says...

I thought GREEN BELT land was PROTECTED. I suppose not where DBC and Bill and his Buddies are concerned.
I thought GREEN BELT land was PROTECTED. I suppose not where DBC and Bill and his Buddies are concerned. oliviaden6
  • Score: 5

4:27pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Luther95 says...

oliviaden6 wrote:
I thought GREEN BELT land was PROTECTED. I suppose not where DBC and Bill and his Buddies are concerned.
There is no green belt aroud Darlington - the only place in the North East which has land with this status is Newcastle, I think.

Looking at the list of sites, most are on the edge of existing housing developments (Tyne Crescent/Lime Avenue, Bamburgh Place) or are brownfield plots (Alexander Street).

D. Hop is right that unless DBC finds way of growing the Darlington economy, it simply won't be able to fund its services after 2017 - the scale of the cuts demanded by the Government are too big. More housing seems a sensible way of takling that agenda forwards.
[quote][p][bold]oliviaden6[/bold] wrote: I thought GREEN BELT land was PROTECTED. I suppose not where DBC and Bill and his Buddies are concerned.[/p][/quote]There is no green belt aroud Darlington - the only place in the North East which has land with this status is Newcastle, I think. Looking at the list of sites, most are on the edge of existing housing developments (Tyne Crescent/Lime Avenue, Bamburgh Place) or are brownfield plots (Alexander Street). D. Hop is right that unless DBC finds way of growing the Darlington economy, it simply won't be able to fund its services after 2017 - the scale of the cuts demanded by the Government are too big. More housing seems a sensible way of takling that agenda forwards. Luther95
  • Score: 0

5:42pm Fri 31 Jan 14

grandmab says...

I do not see how they make money doing this. They sell to a preferred buyer at a reduced value. Then when the houses cannot be sold to wage earning people they are turned over to a housing authority. People on benefits move in and claim housing benefit and council tax relief. So where does the money for the actual DBC bank account come from. We have many derelict factory sites at the edge of housing projects why are these not utilized? There are dozens of under used houses in our area (Harrowgate Hill) why are the singe occupants of three bed houses not offered flats? Oops forgot they are not building houses suitable for the over 75's they are supposed to go into care right?
I do not see how they make money doing this. They sell to a preferred buyer at a reduced value. Then when the houses cannot be sold to wage earning people they are turned over to a housing authority. People on benefits move in and claim housing benefit and council tax relief. So where does the money for the actual DBC bank account come from. We have many derelict factory sites at the edge of housing projects why are these not utilized? There are dozens of under used houses in our area (Harrowgate Hill) why are the singe occupants of three bed houses not offered flats? Oops forgot they are not building houses suitable for the over 75's they are supposed to go into care right? grandmab
  • Score: 0

8:35pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Lifetime Townie says...

D. Hop wrote:
The fact is that in 2+ years, with the current predictions, our council could well go bust. This is due to massively reduced government funding. Therefore they will do anything to try and generate extra cash.
True, they could go bust with all the debt that they are carrying. Just look at the balance sheets to date it must add up to about £150m
[quote][p][bold]D. Hop[/bold] wrote: The fact is that in 2+ years, with the current predictions, our council could well go bust. This is due to massively reduced government funding. Therefore they will do anything to try and generate extra cash.[/p][/quote]True, they could go bust with all the debt that they are carrying. Just look at the balance sheets to date it must add up to about £150m Lifetime Townie
  • Score: 2

9:47pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Awake-in-Darlo says...

grandmab wrote:
I do not see how they make money doing this. They sell to a preferred buyer at a reduced value. Then when the houses cannot be sold to wage earning people they are turned over to a housing authority. People on benefits move in and claim housing benefit and council tax relief. So where does the money for the actual DBC bank account come from. We have many derelict factory sites at the edge of housing projects why are these not utilized? There are dozens of under used houses in our area (Harrowgate Hill) why are the singe occupants of three bed houses not offered flats? Oops forgot they are not building houses suitable for the over 75's they are supposed to go into care right?
Grandmab makes some debatable points. But not so relevant that some people "are not offered flats". The empty "three bedroomed houses" would be added to all the other empty houses in the rental sector or up for sale..the problem is,it can easily cost nigh on £1000 to move into a basic rented property due to so called admin fees, bonds and advanced rent, and upwards of £15,000 plus mortgage approval to buy even a modest house. What`s needed is an affordable system so that all people who need homes can have them. How does building more unaffordable
homes help exactly? Good point that council pays lots of housing benefit
to themselves (?) or rents to speculative landlords, too high to pay out of minimum wage even if there were jobs for some of these tenants.
Agree that one way to put cash in council coffers short term is to sell land, Arts Centre, etc. etc. As they do. And meet Government targets for building houses,so do they get rewarded for that too ?
p.s. Demolish a factory cost money, build on a field doesn`t.
[quote][p][bold]grandmab[/bold] wrote: I do not see how they make money doing this. They sell to a preferred buyer at a reduced value. Then when the houses cannot be sold to wage earning people they are turned over to a housing authority. People on benefits move in and claim housing benefit and council tax relief. So where does the money for the actual DBC bank account come from. We have many derelict factory sites at the edge of housing projects why are these not utilized? There are dozens of under used houses in our area (Harrowgate Hill) why are the singe occupants of three bed houses not offered flats? Oops forgot they are not building houses suitable for the over 75's they are supposed to go into care right?[/p][/quote]Grandmab makes some debatable points. But not so relevant that some people "are not offered flats". The empty "three bedroomed houses" would be added to all the other empty houses in the rental sector or up for sale..the problem is,it can easily cost nigh on £1000 to move into a basic rented property due to so called admin fees, bonds and advanced rent, and upwards of £15,000 plus mortgage approval to buy even a modest house. What`s needed is an affordable system so that all people who need homes can have them. How does building more unaffordable homes help exactly? Good point that council pays lots of housing benefit to themselves (?) or rents to speculative landlords, too high to pay out of minimum wage even if there were jobs for some of these tenants. Agree that one way to put cash in council coffers short term is to sell land, Arts Centre, etc. etc. As they do. And meet Government targets for building houses,so do they get rewarded for that too ? p.s. Demolish a factory cost money, build on a field doesn`t. Awake-in-Darlo
  • Score: 0

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