A MAJOR housing development proposed for the outskirts of Darlington could be in jeopardy after councillors were advised to refuse permission to access the site.

Planning officers at Darlington Borough Council fear that allowing a large residential site to be built next to council-owned land earmarked for employment use could damage its viability and have recommended that councillors refuse the use of key access routes unless the housing plans are dropped.

Developer St Modwen submitted a planning application to Darlington Borough Council for a 600-home site on land it owns off Whessoe Road, reaching towards the Faverdale Industrial Estate, with an eye to also creating employment space and retail units.

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The site, which straddles the Bishop Auckland railway line, had been dubbed Faverdale Garden Village.

Access to the St Modwen site is via two roads running through Darlington Borough Council-owned land behind the Faverdale Industrial Estate, which itself has been earmarked as a site for large-scale employment opportunities.

St Modwen applied to the council for the right to use and extend the access roads as part of the planning process, but the authority’s planning officers have stated they would prefer to see the ‘garden village’ used instead for employment uses, with the 600 houses built elsewhere in the town.

Members of the council’s cabinet have been advised to refuse rights of access across its land at Faverdale for the residential development proposed by St Modwen and to encourage the developer to look at alternative employment uses, when access would be granted.

A report prepared for councillors said: “The site, whilst within the development limits, is not considered to be a sustainable location for new housing.

“The identification of the Faverdale area as employment land in the Local Plan, with its specific references to its good access to the A1(M), indicate the planning policy intention is to market the Faverdale area on the basis of its convenient unfettered access to the trunk road network.

“The volume of residential traffic that this development could generate on roads serving a primarily employment area could reduce the attractiveness of the employment area as a whole.

“By using up employment land whose accessibility offer is unique in the borough, and potentially constraining the range of uses on other adjacent developable employment land, this proposal would conflict with the goal of achieving sustainable economic growth.

“For those reasons, officers have informed the developers that even if the outline planning application were to receive permission they would be recommending to cabinet that access rights are not provided to enable the development to be implemented.”

Cabinet will make a decision on the access rights when it meets at Darlington town hall on Tuesday, March 4, at 5pm.

A spokeswoman for St Modwen declined to comment ahead of the council’s decision.