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Holding Durham County Council to green belt land rules

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

While the UK government is sued over its net-zero strategy plans, County Durham Greens are busy fighting to make County Durham sustainable by objecting strongly to plans for 2,400 homes on green belt land.

Opposition to green belt plans

Sniperley Park, Bent House Lane (Sherburn Road), and the Aykley Heads housing developments are being built on former green belt land, provoking a lot of opposition from local residents. Applications put forward by developers include more houses than are allocated by the County Durham Plan. Indeed DCC allowed the Bent House Lane developer to write the masterplan themselves despite many objections from CDGP and others.

CDGP working towards sustainable masterplans

The Sniperley Park draft masterplan has yet to be agreed and adopted by DCC but already 3 separate premature applications have been submitted by developers. In a site of this size, and with different developers, it is essential that the masterplan is completed to ensure that sustainability is built in from the start. As many home-owners know, trying to retrofit houses with sustainable options is much more difficult and expensive than fitting at the infrastructure stage. CDGP has pressed for active travel routes and public transport connectivity to be assessed further, along with wildlife corridors. We applaud DCC’s optimistic first draft, but want to read a much stronger second draft that recognises the need to reduce GHG emissions this decade.

New vs old style thinking

The Durham City Framework 2021 outlines a county-wide economic vision but mentions climate change only once in the whole document! We need sustainability now, with all the good jobs that go with it, instead of the decades-old style of economic growth at all costs. There is little in the Framework to meet the climate and ecological crises that we all face. We did highlight a few positive aspects of the Framework, and suggested how to address issues and missed opportunities, particularly regarding climate initiatives, sustainable travel and preventing unsustainable growth of the University.

Quotes from CDGP members

Green Councillor Jonathan Elmer said “National bulk developers are putting pressure on the Council by submitting planning applications before development masterplans are adopted, as they hope this may enable them to avoid the small additional costs of constructing truly sustainable development.  This tactic was successful for Banks at Bent House Lane.  We musn't let the same happen at Sniperley”

CDGP Coordinator Rupert Friedrichsen said “I was really disappointed to see such a lack of a positive vision for Durham in the Durham City Framework and our Green Party input to the consultation called that out. Using our beautiful city’s assets strategically, we can reduce CO2 emissions drastically, increase biodiversity, and create a fairer, healthier city for all - let’s make sure the Durham Greens’ voice is heard loud and clear to make that happen!”

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