DEVELOPERS are to be sought to express interest in a 74-acre piece of council-owned land – while the council draws up plans for a possible 188 homes nearby.

Darlington Borough Council is looking for expressions of interest before selecting a preferred developer.

It was agreed at a cabinet meeting to market the land near Faverdale East Business Park and negotiate terms before a future report.

Councillor Alan Marshall, cabinet member for the economy, said: “The purpose of the report is to obtain approval to seek expressions of interest for a preferred developer for 74 acres of land to the east of Faverdale East Business Park for employment.

“A report will be submitted back to cabinet with recommendations once expressions of interest have been received and analysed.”

The latest report says biodiversity issues could prevent development on part of the former St Modwen site, but at least 50 acres would be suitable “green field” land.

Plots on the Faverdale East Business Park have been sold to four firms since 2014.

The report states: “Currently the council is in discussion with three further prospective purchasers for approximately seven acres of land after which we will only have one serviced site remaining.

“The business growth and investment team receive regular enquiries... and since the start of 2021 have received five substantive enquiries for land for business relocation/development in the Faverdale area.”

Options will include plans for the council to keep 18 acres for development.

The cabinet also agreed to carry out feasibility work to develop land in the nearby Burtree Garden Village, with 188 new homes to be built under a draft scheme.

This 67-acre piece of land was declared surplus to requirements in 2017.

“We now want to bring this work forward to a planning application,” Cllr Marshall told the meeting.

The council is in talks with Homes England, which owns adjoining land, to finalise a planning application, according to its latest report.

The report says: “Work is ongoing to bring this site forward for development and it is envisaged a detailed report will be prepared for cabinet once the feasibility work has been completed.

“Burtree Garden Village forms an important part of the council’s Local Plan.

“The intention is for a joint venture company to be formed to develop the council-owned land.

“Further proposals about this will be brought to cabinet in due course.

“To facilitate this development there are several surveys and pieces of feasibility work that will be required to be carried out on the land.”

Cllr Matthew Snedker expressed concern about the homes’ carbon footprint.

Cllr Marshall said: “This report is for feasibility to be done on this site. It’s nothing to do with the design of the houses or anything like that.

“This is for feasibility study to say whether the project can go ahead, and I’m sure those discussions will come back later on.”

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