PLANS for a giant housing scheme close to a County Durham market town have been submitted – 18 months after the proposal was first mooted.

Outline planning permission is being sought by the Ministry of Justice for 75 homes on land near the Deerbolt Young Offenders' Institution, at Startforth.

The project was first unveiled at public exhibition in October 2010, when 84 houses were initially proposed for the 2.63hectare triangular-shaped site.

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The ministry's plans now state the 75 properties will provide family accommodation and will include a number of affordable homes.

The estate will also include a recreation area and access would be from the main A67 Bowes Road.

The scheme is currently being assessed by county planning offices and the closing date for any comments on the plan is March 13.