THE COUNTY Durham Plan is based on unrealistic figures and must be withdrawn now to prevent any further waste of public money, green campaigners claim today (Friday, December 6).

Ahead of consultation on Durham County Council’s flagship development plan closing on Monday (December 9), the Friends of Durham Green Belt has published an Objection and Case for Withdrawal – urging council chiefs to ditch the CDP before it goes to a public examination before a planning inspector next summer.

The CDP proposes 5,200 new homes for Durham City by 2030, of which 4,000 would be on greenbelt land, along with two new bypasses costing tens of millions of pounds and a world-class business hub at Aykley Heads.

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Council bosses say it represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reverse the county’s longstanding economic decline, creating 30,000 new jobs by 2030.

But Kirsty Thomas, from the Friends, said: “We cannot accept proposals for housing and new roads in the greenbelt based on unrealistic and inflated population and housing forecasts.

“We have largely been ignored in offering a more moderate growth alternative which we think is more realistic for an historic city with a World Heritage Site and where the benefits of growth would be spread more fairly around the county.”

Mrs Thomas added: “We hope that the (planning) inspector will share our view that it will be a waste of public money to hold the inquiry with such fundamental objections unresolved and require the council to submit the plan after it has genuinely examined alternatives to its growth strategy for Durham City.”

The Friends argue up to 2,200 new homes should be built around Durham City, all on brownfield sites.

They say the CDP fails to prove the ‘very special circumstances’ needed to build on greenbelt and fails to identify a new ‘strategic site’ for student accommodation.

Stuart Timmiss, the council’s head of planning and assets, said: “As the consultation has not yet closed, it would not be appropriate for us to comment on individual responses.

“We will be providing feedback, as we have done at every stage of this very important process, once we have collated and reviewed all of the comments submitted.”

To comment on the CDP, email: cdpconsultation@durham.gov.uk

The Friends’ document can be viewed at durhamgreenbelt.org.uk

Meanwhile, consultation on the council’s Durham City Masterplan closes today (Friday). For more information, visit durham.gov.uk