A COUNCIL’S money-making scheme to build 449 homes and at the same time boost the area’s volume of affordable housing looks set to remain on track after a deal was struck with nearby landowners.

Darlington Borough Council’s leading members will next week consider buying some 11 acres next to the former Darlington Auction Mart site off Snipe Lane.

The authority is aiming to increase its income to fund public services by building 155 private sale houses, 150 new affordable council houses and 144 affordable homes in a future phase to be built by a registered social housing provider or the council.

However, last year it emerged that while the council had freehold title to virtually all of the land required for the scheme, unless it was able to adopt some narrow strips of land on Snipe Lane, the development could be undermined.

Ahead of a meeting of the council’s cabinet, its resources portfolio holder Councillor Charles Johnson said to guarantee access to the estate the council had approved a compulsory purchase order of land off Snipe Lane, but two landowners who currently use Snipe Lane for access to grazing land had registered objections.

An planning inspector nominated by the Secretary of State is currently assessing the council’s case and the objections, and could call a public inquiry which could lead to a considerable delay to the council’s plans, or even a refusal of the compulsory purchase order.

However, Cllr Johnson said the authority’s officers had recently struck a deal with both landowners, which would lead to the withdrawal of their objections and secure the land for future development. Cllr Johnson said the development remained a good venture for the council even after the cost of buying the land, which remains confidential. He said: “The housing development there is one that the people of Darlington will look at and say that’s a good job done.”