A NORTH-East authority has revealed where it wants to put thousands of homes, employment sites and relief roads over the next two decades.

The latest version of the County Durham Plan, which will guide development until 2035, has been published, highlighting a “growing confidence” in the area, and an “all-time high” level of investment.

The 300 page document details Durham County Council’s preferred options for where development should be focussed, with plans for 26,000 new homes and 300 hectares of employment land.

The council had hoped to introduce a plan several years ago but the process has been beset with difficulties.

Councillor Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration, said the interim period had seen success for the council.

He said: “When we first embarked on the plan process the council and its partners showed a level of ambition that we’re delighted to say is already being delivered.

“We now have a chance of delivering a future for County Durham that builds on that success while protecting and enhancing what already makes it such a great place to live, work and visit.”

Stuart Timmiss, the council’s head of planning, said the new version of the plan would have a greater focus on the whole of County Durham, with more flexibility allowed in rural communities to allow for economic growth.

It also reiterates support for northern and western relied roads around Durham city.

As well as requiring new housing developments should include affordable developments, the council wants to include a similar requirement so 10 per cent of new homes would have to be suitable for older people.

The plan involves the deletion of around 1.5 per cent of the 8,726 hectares of greenbelt in the county.

In Durham city, greenbelt would be removed from Sniperley Park and Sherburn Road to allow 2,320 houses to be built.

It is now seven years since work on the County Durham Plan started.

In 2015, a previous version was withdrawn following a report, later quashed, which branded it as “over-ambitious”.

The council restarted the process in 2016, but it was paused because of uncertainty caused by the delayed publication of a government white paper on housing.

Mr Timmiss said the absence of a plan had not been “ideal”. He added: “There have been some impacts - that’s why it’s so important people do get out to support it or tell us what they want to see changed.”

The council now hopes to submit the final plan for a public examination in spring 2019 and hopes it will be adopted in early 2020.

The cabinet is expected to approve a public consultation when it meets at Crook Civic Centre on Wednesday.