COUNCILLORS have agreed to the demolition of a derelict youth centre which has become a blight at the entrance of a north Durham village and to allow a high-quality housing development in its place.

Members of a Durham County Council’s area planning committee meeting today (Thursday, July 24) endorsed plans for 18 homes at the former All Saint’s Youth Centre in Front Street, Langley Park, near Durham.

Swale Valley Construction applied on behalf of Prince Bishop Homes to build 14 three-bedroom homes, three four-bedroom homes and a two bedroom bungalow.

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Recommending approval, principal planning officer Fiona Clarke said the authority’s housing team did not support the plans as there was no provision for 20 per cent affordable housing, as required.

But, she added, the homes would be marketed as an “intermediate housing” with occupiers charged rents below the local market value and having the option to buy their homes from Prince Bishop Homes after four years.

There had been only one objection from a resident who drew attention to the felling of 150 trees containing nests in March.

Ms Clarke said: “Designed to reflect the main road frontage, the proposal offers a well-designed and thoughtfully laid out scheme that has paid attention to all neighbouring land users to the point where no objections have been received from the public towards this application.”

Addressing the meeting, ward councillor Joe Armstrong said: “This area has been classed as a blight site by Durham County Council.

“The building was closed around 2003 for health and safety reasons.

“There have been problems with anti-social behaviour, with drugs and alcohol abuse being a significant problem.

“The demolition of the building and the erection of 27 dwellings was approved by the former Derwentside District Council in May 2008, but this has now lapsed.”

He added that the rent-to-buy scheme would enable young couples and first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder.

He said: “Both county councillors support the application, as do the parish council and the majority of residents on Front Street opposite the proposed development.

“This has been the bane of the lives of people in Langley Park since 2003. It is a dilapidated building in a dilapidated area, spoiling appearance to the entrance of the village. I urge members to fully support it.”

The proposals were unanimously agreed.