DEVELOPERS in County Durham have called for bigger house building targets to boost the economy and to provide more affordable housing.

House builders have argued Durham County Council's target of building 1,308 homes a year – or 24,852 by 2035 – will not be enough to achieve its economic aspirations.

The targets are set out in the proposed County Durham Plan, which is under examination by inspector William Fieldhouse.

The examination, which is taking place at The Glebe Centre, in Murton, gives developers, community organisations and residents the chance to give their views on the plan.

The council has included up to 300 hectares of land to be developed for employment uses and says it expects about 260 hectares of that to be taken up.

But companies including Persimmon Homes, Story Homes and Bellway, argued not enough housing has been included to support growth.

Mark Ketley, representing Stuart Smith , Bellway Homes and Story Homes, said: "If the housing requirement is taken forward at 1,308, there's a risk that momentum of the last couple of years will potentially be slowed down and halted."

Graeme Smith, the council's policy team leader, said the plan was aligned in terms of housing and employment strategy.

"We don't think there's an inbalance," he said. "Looking at past form this hasn't been a barrier and we are able to maintain momentum for the County Durham economy."

Representations were made that the most recent completion rates for houses in County Durham should be used in deciding how many should be built in the future.

The most recent annual completion rate for County Durham is 1,463 houses– higher than any of the years between 2013-18.

Mr Hall, speaking on behalf of Persimmon, said: “We are now experiencing a boost in supply and our feeling is that it should continue. By not going with the recent development, you’re effectively putting the brakes on.”

Mr Fieldhouse was told the council had estimated there was need for 836 affordable houses a year – 64 per cent of the total – but there would be a shortfall in provision.

The council wants to introduce a policy so developments are made up of up to 25 per cent affordable housing on certain sites - up from 10 per cent at present.

Developers suggested increasing the number of homes built would result in more affordable housing.

Tom Baker, representing Savills on behalf of Bellway Homes, said: "We are talking about an increase in people living in unsuitable accommodation every year. It's significant and if the council can do anything to address that, it should."

Mr Smith said increasing the number of houses built would increase affordable housing but added would also have negative impacts, including environmental factors.

But Josephine Ellis of Durham Road Block, a group set up to campaign against relief roads in Durham City, said the problem was not a lack of development but a shortage of the right developments in the right place.

She said: "If we build more houses than are required there's an environmental impact."

The examination is set to continue until December 5.