READING the Garden City principles set out by the Town and Country Planning Association, there is a lot to like.

The principles state the developments should have strong community engagement, community ownership of land and long-term stewardship of assets, as well as types of housing that are genuinely affordable.

The projects should include a wide range of jobs within easy commuting distance of homes, which must be “beautifully and imaginatively” designed.

The gardens should help create healthy communities and give residents the opportunities to grow food. They should enhance the natural environment and create strong cultural, recreational and shopping facilities in “walkable, vibrant and sociable neighbourhoods”.

The developers behind the proposed Skerningham Garden Village in Darlington, revealed today by The Northern Echo, say these principles would guide the project.

However this idyllic concept will be little comfort to the protest groups in the area already getting ready to fight plans for the proposed A1-A66 link road nearby.

Ever since that scheme was announced, there have been rumblings about a large-scale development in the same area, and today’s news confirms that suspicion.

Such a big plan – 4,500 homes, business premises, shops and leisure facilities – is bound to cause a sharp intake of breath, no matter how laudable the green credentials.

Most people accept there is a huge need for new homes to keep our communities sustainable, but they have to be in the right place. Whether or not this is north-east of Darlington is sure to be the subject of huge debate in the coming months. We await fuller details with interest.