CONCERNS over a council’s proposed plan for the future development of a 76sq mile area will be explained at a public meeting in the hope it will fuel pressure for the authority to change its vision.

Darlington Green Party is organising a “non-party political” event to present the findings of a report by an independent planning consultant into the borough council’s draft Local Plan to discuss “the facts available and how we should best go forward given that information”.

The study concluded the authority’s assessment that 9,840 homes will need to be built by 2036 is flawed and that there were no “exceptional circumstances” to justify the use of a different means of calculating the figure to one provided by the government.

It also found there was little justification for the construction of several new roads proposed for Darlington and although many of the policies in the draft Local Plan are unremarkable, several of them display “a profound lack of interest in, or knowledge of, sustainable development, particularly where it concerns the relationship between development and carbon emissions.

The study also pointed toward significant concerns about the Local Plan’s aim to deliver new development that is capable of facilitating local or strategic infrastructure as this could “lead to an enthusiasm to permit development irrespective of its merits, and irrespective of its impact upon the local and global environment”.

The study was commissioned by the Green Party following “significant concerns from residents about overdevelopment of the town, particularly on greenfield sites, and the irreversible damage this was doing”. However, as it was not a council-produced document a request to hold a briefing to explain its findings to councillors at the Town Hall was refused.

Instead, the party said the study - which was crowdfunded by donations from members of various political parties and those involved in campaign groups in Blackwell, Skerningham and other areas of town which would be particularly affected by the proposed Local Plan, and by other “individual concerned residents” - would be explained to councillors and anyone interested on Tuesday, January 14, from 7pm, in St Cuthbert’s Church Hall, just yards from the Town Hall.

The council’s Green Party leader Councillor Matthew Snedker said: “This public meeting is open to anyone wanting to question the draft Local Plan or simply interested in learning more about the sustainable alternative for Darlington’s future.

“We have received very strong support for our vision of how the draft Local Plan should be rewritten and want to spread the good news as widely as possible. Once more, we would like to thank the individuals and community group that helped fund this report.”