POLICE have criticised a proposed housing development because they say its design could generate crime.

A planning application has been submitted by Dere Street Homes to put up to 74 homes on land to the west of Davis Crescent, in Langley Park.

The company says the 4.6 hectare site is in a sustainable location, within walking distance of public transport and the centre of the village.

But Durham Police has objected to the proposals in their current form because of its proximity to the old railway line, which is now a walking and cycling track.

The police’s response to the application says: “Many of the dis-used railway lines in the county converted to leisure use have been used for crime, criminals use them to access places without using the normal road network; nuisance from off road vehicles is also a concern.

“Access from the housing estate to the Lanchester valley railway path needs to be carefully designed to ensure off road vehicles including motorcycles cannot access the new development.

“Houses adjacent to the railway path need to be protected; ideally the houses should front on to the path making it a feature of the development.

“The proposed layout seems to indicate creating a footpath from the dis-used railway line along the eastern boundary of the site; this would make all the existing properties on Davis Crescent vulnerable to crime as it would provide easy access to the rear of the properties.”

The houses would be a mix of two, three and four bedroom homes, and 15 per cent of the development would be classed as “affordable”.

The site would be accessed from a new junction with Low Moor Road, at the southern edge of the site, and would also be connected to the existing Lanchester Valley railway path in the north east corner of the site, which the developers say would promote walking and cycling opportunities.

Their planning application says: “The proposal would be deliverable in the short term, helping to increase the supply and choice of housing in a sustainable location which forms a logical extension to the built up extent of Langley Park.

“The proposal would incorporate a significant proportion of affordable housing which would be available to meet the needs of local households who could not afford to buy or rent on the open market.”

The plans were revealed to members of the community during a consultation event, held at the Miners Institute, in Church Street in August.

About 70 people attended the event to look at the proposals.