A TEESDALE parish council has become the first in the county to get the go-ahead to help shape the future of the community it serves.

Gainford and Langton Parish Council aims to use powers introduced under the 2011 Localism Act to develop a neighbourhood plan.

Such a plan allows the community to establish local development policies, enabling residents to take greater control over what is built and which areas can be used.

Gainford and Langton Parish Council clerk Martin Clerk said the only other group working towards a neighbourhood plan in County Durham was Great Aycliffe Town Council.

He told members: “All eyes will be on us and Durham County Council as they are as new to this as we are.”

Chairwoman, Coun Linda Britton, promised a “totally thorough approach” featuring everything from questionnaires to roadshows.

“Feedback from the village is that the village wants to take a hand in its own destiny,” she said.

Coun Britton added: “The Neighbourhood Plan provides an opportunity for the parish council, together with our wider community, to have a greater influence over how our village evolves in the years ahead. “We will also be exploring initiatives to ensure that we remain an economically viable community which supports a good network of village shops and services.

“The Gainford and Langton Neighbourhood Plan will set out a vision for the future of the parish and this will include policies on new development and where it should be sited, social and leisure facilities for the community and helping support and develop the local economy.”

Up to £7,000 is available to the parish council to help during the process of developing a neighbourhood plan, covering the cost of producing leaflets and staging events.

Members agreed to establish a sub-committee to deal with all matters related to the neighbourhood plan.