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Council meeting reveals concerns about controversial housing plan in Darlington
PUBLIC concerns about a controversial housing plan were revealed at a council meeting.
Fears that much-loved green spaces could be lost and public services left stretched dominated responses to a plan to build 5,800 new homes in Darlington.
Darlington Borough Council’s Making and Growing Places plan was met with strong local opposition throughout a six-week consultation period held this summer.
Hundreds of people have expressed concerns about the potential development, which proposes building homes on sites at Central Park, the Town Centre Fringe and Lingfield Point as well as on so-called ‘infill sites’ – small patches of apparently unused land throughout the town.
More than 400 written responses to the consultation have been gathered so far and community consultation events were left over-capacity on several occasions, with hundreds of concerned residents flocking to have their say on the potential transformation of their neighbourhoods.
The town’s principle planning officer, Valerie Adams, revealed initial findings of the consultation at a meeting of the council’s Place Scrutiny Committee.
Analysis of the exercise is still on-going but early feedback shows that many residents, especially in Blackwell and Cockerton, are worried about the potential loss of green spaces that they say are well used by the local community.
Many residents also believe the development will put already stretched schools and doctors’ surgeries under more pressure, particularly in the North West urban fringe area.
Ms Adams said the consultation exercise was proving useful in terms of providing much-valued local knowledge about different areas.
She said: “In some cases, we may not have realised how used an area is. In some instances, we are being told about certain types of wildlife we were not aware of being on a site. It has been a very constructive exercise.”
However, she went on to add: “Some people out there do not like the idea of some developments, especially on areas they use, and they will battle the council all the way on it.
“They feel it is their right to have it there as long as they want it and as long as they are enjoying it.
“There will always be some people like that.”
Further discussion of the consultation exercise will take place at a special meeting on Thursday, October 31.
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