RESIDENTS will have a final chance to have their say on their local plan when it is formally published next week.

Darlington Borough Council, which agreed the final version of its proposed submission plan in February, delayed depositing the plan because of the coronavirus pandemic and fears it would prevent people from taking part in the process.

It now plans to put the plan on deposit next Thursday, August 6, from which time people will have six weeks to submit comments,

Councillor Heather Scott, leader of the authority, said: “I’d like to thank people for their patience during the delay in progressing with the local plan but we felt it was important that we only continue when as many people as possible were free to participate fully.

“There has been an excellent response to the local plan consultation periods throughout the process and this is the final opportunity for people to have their say.

“The local plan is a key document that will shape the future development of our borough and the responses that we’ve had so far have been used to inform and change the document that we are presenting as our proposed submission.”

Only representations made during this six week period will be considered in full by the independent planning inspector at the examination stage, which is scheduled to take place in 2021.

However, a summary of the main issues raised during the summer 2018 consultation stage, and how they have been taken into account by the council, will also be sent to the inspector.

At this final stage representations must relate only to the legal and procedural requirements for preparing local plans and the ‘soundness’ of the proposed submission version of the local plan.

The controversial plan, which will act as a blueprint for development in Darlington until 2036, includes policies on housing, jobs and the economy.

It was approved during a four-hour meeting in February, when residents attended to voice their fears about huge housing estates planned for the borough, which they claim would have a "devastating negative impact".

At the time, Cllr Scott said developers of large-scale estates would fund significant infrastructure, such as new roads and schools needed in the area as well as net gains in biodiversity, while smaller developments would create "uncertainty", she claimed.

Residents also pressed for a referendum to decide over the loss of swathes of green field land surrounding the town.

People can view the plan and make representations by visiting the council's consultation portal –

People are encouraged to take part in the consultation online where possible, though hard copies will be available, by appointment only, at the town hall's customer service department.