A DRAFT blueprint on how a council wants Darlington and its surrounding area to develop over the next few years has been created.

Darlington Borough Council are seeking residents’ views on how they think the borough should develop before a final plan is created.

The plan, which is available to view online, at Darlington Town Hall reception or Cockerton and Crown Street libraries, sets down guidelines for developers.

The council is hoping it will ensure the borough’s new developments are easier to travel around, new buildings, roads and open spaces are safe and well lit, and new buildings respect the area’s heritage.

It also aiming to promote designs which reduce carbon dioxide emissions and provide green spaces and play areas.

The draft plan recommends all new residential developments should be designed to 20mph speed limits and trees should be used to make avenues to connect green spaces.

It says there should be clear main entrances to buildings which must have disabled access.

To ensure public areas are secure, sports, recreation and children’s play areas must be visible and overlooked. Closed circuit television should be included in developments where appropriate.

For safety, accessibility and to encourage people to use sustainable transport, the draft recommends roadways should have purpose-built, integrated areas for pedestrians and cyclists.

On an environmental level, the document recommends all major devlopments should be powered by at least 10pc renewable energy. All developments should make the most of sunlight to improve energy efficiency.

The draft plan also encourages the use of public art and the protection of green habitat.

It divides the town into seven zones based on distinctive characteristics in design.

The zones are town centre, town centre fringe, inner suburban, outer suburbs, rural area, employment zone, and transport node and local services.

The document says developers should be encouraged to take account of the characteristics of the surrounding area when planning their development.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Darlington Council has drawn up a draft plan showing how good quality design will ensure the borough continues to be an attractive, safe and sustainable place.

“Before the plan is finalised, the council wants to hear local people’s views on how Darlington should look in the future.”

Comments should be made by February 18. For more information, contact the council's planning policy section on 01325-388644, e-mail planning.policy@darlington.gov.uk or visit www.darlington.gov.uk/planningpolicy.