A neighbourhood plan for a historic rural village will be used in future planning wrangles following its approval by the county council.

The Cotherstone Parish Neighbourhood Plan was drawn up and approved by voters in a referendum.

The plan, which will be in place until 2035, was presented to a Durham County Council meeting on Wednesday (July 20).

It covers areas like the profile, boundary and setting of the village, historic environment, green spaces, valued views, beauty, character, business and jobs.

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It sets out a vision to "help support a thriving and cohesive community" in Cotherstone, whose name is recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book with its first settlement in the 9th century.

"It will strive to cherish, preserve and enhance its essential rural character and setting and its wealth of heritage and natural assets for the benefits they bring to all who live, work within and visit the area," the plan states.

Geoff Paul, interim head of regeneration, economy and growth, said the council had already made eight neighbourhood plans in Whorlton and Westwick, Great Aycliffe, Sedgefield, Witton Gilbert, Durham city, Lanchester, Oakenshaw and Cassop cum Quarrington, with more under preparation.

He said the parish council took the plan through consultation and an independent examiner looked at the plan in September to November last year.

He added: "The final report was formally submitted to the county council on February 23.

"The referendum was held on July 7. There was a turnout of 29% and 90.63% were in favour of the neighbourhood plan.

"The neighbourhood plan, once adopted, will form part of the County Durham Local Plan."

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Councillor Elizabeth Scott, cabinet member for economy and partnerships, commended residents for preparing the plan over the last few years.

She said: "Their endeavours have been suitably rewarded by an overwhelmingly positive response in the recent referendum.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Elizabeth Scott. Picture: Northern Echo.Cllr Elizabeth Scott. Picture: Northern Echo.

"It's therefore clear that the policies in these neighbourhood plans reflect the priorities of local people and they will now be used by planning officers when considering planning applications in these areas."

Cllr Richard Bell, deputy council leader, cabinet member for finance and member for Barnard Castle West, said: "As local member I'm happy to second the report.

"The parish of Cotherstone has been working on this for a number of years, I think at least five. It's been a very long and arduous and thorough process.

"I'm very pleased that it's been endorsed by quite a healthy turnout and an overwhelming majority of residents that voted a couple of weeks ago.

The Northern Echo: Cllr Richard Bell. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.Cllr Richard Bell. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.

"And I hope that appropriate notice of it is taken in future planning matters, both by officers and members in this council."

A formal statement of the decision will be published on the council's website and in locations like County Hall and the parish council office.

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