A CIVIC planning and environmental watchdog has suspended meetings, including its forthcoming annual meeting, in line with restrictions to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

But the City of Durham Trust, which has been running the rule over proposed developments in Durham since 1942, has pledged to continue to monitor planning applications and engage in consultation exercises.

In an “extraordinary bulletin” for April, the trust said following advice from the Charities Commission it has allowed it to set aside observance of its articles of association which would conflict with latest Government guidance over social distancing and gatherings.

The trust’s annual meeting was to have been on June 10, but it has been postponed and a new date will be confirmed “as soon as events allow”.

Trustees whose terms of office are due to expire will continue in office until the annual meeting can be staged, leaving John Lowe as chairman and acting honorary secretary, Roger Cornwell as vice-chair and Malcolm Reed as treasurer and acting company secretary.

The trust said it will continue to function and correspond largely by email via trust@durhamcity.org, and has asked interested parties seeking regular updates to make contact to supply their email addresses.

But it advises individuals keen to check planning matters of interest in the city to visit the county council’s planning mortal, at https://publicaccess.durham.gov.uk/online-applications/ which carries responses made by the trust to different applications.

Among ongoing developments of interest are the County Durham Plan, which will determine planning policy in the county, until 2035.

Inspector William Fieldhouse’s final report on the county council’s amended plan has yet to be issued, the prior six-week public consultation about the many modifications has had to be postponed.

The other important plan of interest is the City of Durham Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan, which has completed most of its stages and is undergoing scrutiny by an independent examiner.

His role is to determine if the plan is ready to be submitted to a local referendum of registered voters in the city parish.

But his report is expected to include recommendations for improvements to the plan, particularly relating to clarity of policy wording, which must be agreed by both the county and parish councils.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Government instructions suggest such a referendum cannot take place prior to May 2021.

The plan will only come into force if a majority of voters give their support.

Meanwhile, proposed new trustee Sue Childs is said to be engaged in a “substantial update” of the trust website, www.durhamcity.org, enhancing its facilities as a news site, archive, calendar, magazine and information resource.

A blog will enable members to make comment on local issues or developments.