A plan for 96 homes to be built on green land has been refused by Durham County Council. 

Developers Arlington Real Estate had proposed the construction of 96 homes at the Durham Gate site, near the A167 in Spennymoor, on land that the Council had previously earmarked for office space and industrial use. 

Objectors to the proposed housing development at the DurhamGate site, in Spennymoor, said that the new housing, built next to an existing newbuild estate, would have issues with drainage, noise, and design. 

There were also concerns that the land, previously granted permission as employment allocation, would be better used and provide more jobs. 

The Northern Echo: The proposed homes would be located near to existing newbuilds. The proposed homes would be located near to existing newbuilds. (Image: DCC)

Councillors on Durham County Council's planning committee refused planning permission for the scheme yesterday (Tuesday, November 8). 

The development of the area, initially granted permission fifteen years ago, is intended to replace the industrial jobs lost following the closure of the Black & Decker factory. 

Developers have said that the DurhamGate development has already attracted £100 million of investment to Spennymoor, and created 1,300 jobs. 

The applicant said that since the previous policy, which allocated the land for employment use, had been written, the needs of the community had fundamentally changed, with the demand for office and industrial space in Spennymoor decreasing since the pandemic. 

Dean Cook, managing director of developer Arlington Real Estate said that over the last decade, the development had transformed a "dilapidated industrial site into a thriving community", but that the pandemic had "influenced the evolution of the plan". 

But Durham County Council's Planning Officer said that all employment uses, including light industrial use and warehousing, "have not been seriously explored", with the site "not actively marketed" for employment use for a continuous period of at least two years. 

Therefore, it was deemed that developers "had not demonstrated that there is a lack of demand for employment uses on this site."

Paul Thompson, who appeared at the planning committee meeting on behalf of the DurhamGate resident's association, said the housing development would have "only be a positive to the area".

However, the Lead Local Flood Authority objected to the application, arguing that the approach to the management of surface water runoff has not been designed to form an intrinsic part of the development layout, raising concerns over water quality. 

Environmental Health Nuisance raised concerns over the principle of developing this site as homes, due to the site's close proximity to existing industrial and commercial uses. 

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Business Durham also argued that it was an "exaggeration" to say that office development is not possible at DurhamGate.

They advised, that in their experience, the market for smaller office units "remains strong" and that the demand for industrial units has outstripped supply in recent years. 

The council voted to reject the development, over concerns about drainage, noise, proposed design, and the drift from intended use as land for businesses.