CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a link road through a Darlington park which is used by around ‘7,000 residents’ will be scrapped from council blueprints.

Darlington Borough Council’s Local Plan, which includes the creation of 4,500 new homes, business premises, shops and leisure facilities, is set to be discussed by members of the cabinet next week.

Under the plans, the council had previously suggested a link road would slice through Springfield Park in attempts to "improve access" to the proposed Skerningham Garden Village.

A study into the viability of the ‘Springfield Park road’ revealed while it was not crucial to the development, there would be “significant traffic numbers” added onto existing roads in the town.

Last night, formally announcing that a ‘number of changes’ had been made to the Local Plan following a consultation with almost 300 residents and businesses, the council confirmed all reference to a link road will be removed from the plans.

Councillor Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Council, said: “People are passionate about their local area and the wider implications of the plan and the future development of the borough.

“We have taken that feedback on board and made some key changes to the proposals, both in terms of site allocations and our biodiversity policies."

“We appreciate, and share, concerns raised about the environment and the biodiversity of the borough and we have changed a number of policies to ensure we aim for a net gain of biodiversity in the lifetime of the plan.”

A study into how traffic patterns could change if the link road was removed from the Local Plan revealed Whinbush Way would carry an extra 4,094 vehicles a day, while Barmpton Lane North would see an extra 2,976 vehicles each day.

Responding, the authority's Labour group leader, Councillor Stephen Harker said he was curious as to how the decision to axe the road had been arrived at and raised concerns about how much time residents had been given to consider the findings of the Skerningham Garden Village traffic modelling study.

'Doesn't make any sense'

He said: "The decision over whether Skerningham would work needs to be taken as a whole, rather than in a piecemeal fashion.

"It doesn’t make any sense making a decision about an access point at this point in the Local Plan because there will be lots of residents who weren’t aware and partly because it was only about one access to the proposed development.”

As part of Wednesday's revisions, it has been recommended that Springfield Park is removed from the plan's strategic allocation and is instead proposed to become a designated Local Green Space.

A proposed site in Blackwell Grange has been replaced with plans for a site with 'much less impact' on Blackwell Grange Hotel and historic parkland.

Revisions also include land to the south of High Stell in Middleton St George removed from the plans.

'Firmly opposed to the plan'

But despite the changes, Councillor Matthew Snedker, leader of the authority’s Green Party, said he remained firmly opposed to the proposed Local Plan.

He said: “It is positive to hear the council has listened to the views of residents and kept their election pledge over Springfield Park, but it mustn’t be ignored that they said they would bring forward their own Local Plan and that they would scale back the housebuilding numbers to those of the government recommended figures.”

If the recommendations are accepted by full council and before the plan is submitted for examination, a six-week period allowing members of the public and organisations to comment on the overall plan will open.