A COUNCIL'S decision to postpone the consideration of a number of planning applications, totalling more than 1,000 homes, following legal advice has been described as "great news" by a councillor.

Members of Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee were today due to discuss plans to build 985 houses a primary school, early years school and sports pitches on land south of Staindrop Road, as well as more than 500 homes on land north of Coniscliffe Road and 260 homes in Middleton St George.

But yesterday, The Northern Echo revealed the council's lawyers have advised the authority to withdraw the planning applications from consideration at this week’s committee meeting, adding they should not be discussed until the local plan has been approved.

Cllr Matthew Snedker said the decision was proof the number of homes planned for Darlington was "too high".

He said: "It is really good news. We have always been of the opinion that the number of new homes planned for Darlington was far to big, and we have campaigned for the local plan to be changed to a more sustainable level."

The Echo understands that because the scale of the three developments would take the number of homes in each area outside development limits, the council was advised to withdraw them from discussion until the local plan is adopted.

The legal advice comes as environmental pressure group Campaign to Protect Rural England said the town has enough houses for the next decade as it urged the planning department to reject the applications.

Cllr Snedker added: "I am shocked for this to have happened so close to the planning meeting, but I am please with the legal advice.

"CPRE have been saying this for ages and nothing has changed. They say we haven't got a five year supply but a ten year supply, and I don't disagree. The numbers have been too high

"It is about balance, everyone knows we need more houses but the figures that have been suggested are overblown, they are excessive."

A Darlington Borough Council spokesperson said: "The decision to defer consideration of these applications was made on the back of external legal advice that was only received very recently.

"It’s not especially unusual for planning applications to be deferred even if they’ve made their way onto a committee meeting agenda.

"It is expected that these applications will be considered by the planning committee once the new Local Plan is in place."