COUNCILS in the region want to build thousands more homes than recommended by the government.

Darlington Borough Council described the government’s new methodology for calculating housing need as “flawed”, while Durham County Council says it does not align with policies aimed supporting economic growth.

Darlington council says it wants to build almost three times the number of houses recommended by the government – a total of 9,840 over the 20 year period.

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It has published the first details of its local plan, which sets out its housing policy for the next two decades, which will be discussed by the council at a meeting next week.

Meanwhile, Durham County Council, which is due to restart its plan this year following a year-long delay, wants to build up to 5,000 more homes than the government says are needed.

The authority had to return to the early stages of its plan in 2015 after being told by a government inspector that it was too ambitious, in a report which was later quashed following appeal.

But the process was put on hold in 2016 to await details of a new national policy on housing and proposals to reform the planning system to increase the supply of new homes. In November the council approved a decision to restart the process.

According to the proposed government formula, there should be 1,368 homes built in County Durham annually – at least 165 less than the council has calculated.

In the last three years in Durham, 1,146, 1,537 and 1,386 houses have been built.

During the last consultation put forward by the council, it had proposed three different scenarios for growth.

If it adopted the highest it would mean a difference of 5,235 homes over the course of the plan.

Despite the difference, the council says there is no need to revisit the earlier stage of plan preparation as the government says it will support “ambitious” authorities wanting to deliver more homes.

A report going to its economy and enterprise scrutiny group next week says: “Whilst the government’s consultation does provide a baseline figure for the expected housing number, it also provides a context but as yet no detail as to how a figure could be uplifted to consider issues such as economic growth.

“Despite this current lack of clarity we believe that we can now move forward with progressing the local plan.”

The council is due to publish its preferred options later this year before another round of consultation, with a draft plan submitted to the government in 2019.

It is hoped the plan, which goes up to 2035, will be adopted in 2020.

Darlington council plans to build 492 homes per year, which equates to 9,840 over the 20 year period.

However, the government recommends building 177 homes per year, which equates to 3,540 over the two decades.

But the council insists the figure of 492 houses per year is not very different to what has historically been built in the borough each year.

A report on the local plan, which will be discussed by cabinet members on Tuesday, says the methodology used by the government has “flaws” and said the council’s figure was based on “continued job growth” of 7,000 new jobs over the 20 year period, as well as population growth and social changes.

The report says: “Based on previous economic performance it is realistic to assume a continued jobs growth of 7,000 full time equivalent jobs over the plan period.

“For employers investing in business the primary consideration is the availability of a labour force, so it is essential to Darlington’s economic prosperity to ensure there are sufficient homes for employees.

“In order to ensure the fully objectively assessed need for market and affordable housing is met, it will be necessary to plan for more dwellings than are suggested by population projections alone to ensure sufficient new homes over the plan period.”

It adds that data, including NHS registrations and school rolls, cast doubt on the “robustness” of the government’s methodology in creating its housing targets.

“The council, adjoining authorities, the Tees Valley Combined Authority and the North East Chamber of Commerce all responded to the consultation highlighting flaws in the methodology and in particular the disastrous impact it might have on the economy of the north.”