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Housing firms jump the gun to avoid planning rules

Two housing companies have made outline planning applications for the Sniperley Park development north of Durham City before a masterplan for the site has been agreed.

Green County Durham Councillor Jonathan Elmer said: “By putting in planning applications before the masterplan has been adopted, the housing firms are obviously hoping to avoid having to comply with the sustainable development framework which is currently being consulted upon.

“Both applications have aspects that do not fit in with the higher aspirations of Durham County Council’s sustainable development masterplan for Sniperley.

“I have written to the council’s planning department to express my concern about these premature applications. The planning department acknowledges that, while the masterplan is in the consultation stage, the weight that can be attributed to it with regard to any planning application is limited.

“The housing firms know this and are deliberately using the system to avoid their environmental responsibilities.”

The Sniperley Park site has a huge housing allocation which could see the building of up to 1,700 new homes and community facilities.

County Durham Greens have already objected to one of these outline applications (DM/21/02360/FPA) on the basis of its prematurity and plan to send in a similar response to the more recent one (DM/21/03574/OUT).

It is one of the Party’s aims to engage constructively with the planning process in order to achieve development that meets the evidenced needs of people in County Durham.

The County Durham Plan adopted in 2020 has many policies to protect green infrastructure, spaces for nature and to provide mitigation for climate change issues.

County Durham Greens will hold the council and developers to account to ensure they abide by the Plan.

Map (simplified) of proposed Sniperley development - © CC BY-SA OpenStreetMap contributors