A £3BN economic masterplan has been rescued, after a High Court judge agreed to quash a damning independent report.

Durham County Council’s highly controversial County Durham Plan (CDP) will now be withdrawn, “amended and refreshed”, resubmitted and put to a second public inquiry led by a new planning inspector early next year.

The deal between the council and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), announced today (Wednesday, September 23), brings to an end months of uncertainty since the CDP was dismissed as flawed and unsound by inspector Harold Stephens, who led a six-week public inquiry last autumn.

Councillor Neil Foster, the council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “This outcome is sensible, reasonable and fair for the plan and for County Durham.”

The announcement met with delight from supporters, including business leaders impressed by the CDP’s aims of 30,000 new jobs, 31,400 new homes and more retail and employment space by 2030, and despair from critics, including green campaigners who say it is way over the top and risks ruining Durham’s medieval charm.

Millionaire former Newcastle United chairman Sir John Hall said: “It’s wonderful news for County Durham and the region. I’m delighted to hear common sense has prevailed.”

But Roger Cornwell, chair of the City of Durham Trust, said: “In many ways it’s the worst of all worlds, because the county council intends to produce merely an amended and refreshed version of the withdrawn plan instead of tackling the key faults identified by the inspector.

“There is a real risk that in two years’ time the new inspector will find the same fundamental flaws and we will be no further forward.”

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said she was pleased to see the CDP “back on track” but hoped the council would listen to people’s views and reflect them in the revised CDP.

The CDP focuses on transforming Durham City into a boom town, with 5,000 new homes, including 4,000 on Greenbelt land, two new bypasses costing around £100m and a world-class business hub at Aykley Heads.

Following publication of Mr Stephens' interim report in February, in May the council sought a judicial review. DCLG asked that the legal action be paused for 30 days in mid-June, but very little has been said publicly since.

No timetable for the “amend and refresh” process has been released, but Cllr Foster said the council would be working to ensure the refreshed CDP could be submitted “at the earliest opportunity with a view to a new examination being held in early 2016”.