A CONTROVERSIAL masterplan to shape developments across a borough until 2036 has been hit by a further delay as concerns over access to a proposed 4,500-home garden village that has been granted government funding continue.

Darlington Borough Council’s deputy leader Councillor Charles Johnson confirmed the authority’s first Local Plan since 1997 would now not be considered by cabinet members until January as work to model traffic flows around the potential Skerningham development had proved more complex than initially thought.

When the Local Plan, which was originally developed under the previous Labour administration, was “paused” in July, council leader Councillor Heather Scott said it was vital all views and options were taken into account before the authority committed to a fresh Local Plan for the borough.

The announcement of the latest delay comes just days after the authority’s members were given a confidential briefing by planning chiefs about emerging possible solutions as the council’s place scrutiny committee stated a plan to build a road across a Springfield Park to improve access to the estate should be ditched.

Council sources said projections of traffic flows relayed to members showed a tripling of traffic volumes in some areas north-east of the town and that traffic flows would not fully reduce again until the 15-year construction phase of the garden village was completed.

The development is expected to feature 4,500 homes, business premises, shops and leisure facilities, close to a controversial proposed link road between two of the region’s busiest routes – the A1 and A66.

While no councillors have been prepared to speak openly about the update, some have raised concerns over projected traffic on residential roads such as Barmpton Lane North, which narrows significantly and sees residents access the road directly off their drives.

It is also understood developers have been approached to consider offering a parcel of land for sports pitches alongside paying for improvements to Springfield Park in return for having the access road run through the park.

Meanwhile, opposition members have often claimed the ruling Conservative group has been split over the contentious road, but Cllr Johnson said the group was of one voice over the issue.

He said: “There has been some remodelling done to see which is the best route, but we are a way fair off yet. It is very complicated.

“The longer it goes on the more complicated it becomes, but it is not something that can be rushed.”