A COUNCIL has been forced to postpone the consideration of a number of planning applications, totalling more than 1,000 homes, following legal advice.

Members of Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee were tomorrow due to discuss plans to build 985 houses and create space for a primary school, early years school and sports pitches on land south of Staindrop Road, as well as more than 500 homes on land north of Coniscliffe Road and 260 homes in Middleton St George.

But with because the council is not due to discuss the progress of the draft local plan until July, its lawyers have advised the authority to withdraw the planning applications from consideration at this week’s committee meeting.

The Northern Echo understands that because the scale of the three developments would take the number of homes in each area outside development limits, the council was advised to withdraw them from discussion until the local plan is adopted.

The legal advice comes as environmental pressure group Campaign to Protect Rural England said the town has enough houses for the next decade as it urged the council’s planning department to reject the applications.

The organisation is calling on the council not to use up any more of its remaining green fields on property development.

Gillan Gibson, CPRE Darlington secretary, said: “One controversial planning application after another to build new and unneeded housing estates on our precious countryside has been allowed by Darlington Borough Council on the basis that they didn’t have an adequate five-year housing land supply.

“What we can show, conclusively, now is that so many applications have been granted that the council not only does not have to grant more over the next five years, it has sufficient for ten.”

A council spokesman said: “The council is due to discuss the progress of the draft local plan at a meeting of cabinet in July. With that in mind, it has been decided to withdraw the applications from consideration at this week’s planning committee. These applications will come back before the planning committee, to be decided on, once the local plan is adopted.”