THE partnership behind controversial government-backed plans to develop a garden village on the edge of Darlington is set to launch an online community consultation.

Homes England, the government’s housing agency, and developer Hellens Group said they were seeking the views of residents and interested parties on their proposals for the first stage of the planned 2,000-home Burtree Garden Village at Faverdale.

The first phase will include 700 homes, employment space and a new public park. The development will also eventually include an extra care facility, retail and community facilities and a primary school.

Following a previous consultation in October 2017 when differing masterplans were presented to residents, the scheme has been the focus of intense criticism.

Residents and local politicians have claimed the garden village will make the town’s roads more congested and have questioned whether the new homes would meet the community’s housing needs.

Critics of the scheme have also claimed it would be environmentally damaging and had been pushed forward to pay for infrastructure such as roads, claims which the developers have denied.

Ahead of a two-week consultation from July 20, a spokesman for the partnership said the designs had progressed in line with the preferred layout at the 2017 consultation and they hoped to submit a planning application this summer.

The spokesman said: “The further round of consultation will provide local residents and interested parties with the opportunity to view the proposals online and submit their views”.