Published December 05, 2016 3.03pm
The process which will result in a plan for development across County Durham has been paused to consider what are expected to be fundamental changes from a new Government White Paper.
After the Issues and Options consultation on the County Durham Plan earlier in the year, we were aiming to seek Cabinet approval to consult in the New Year on a preferred option.
With the Government set to announce full details of a White Paper in January - which could fundamentally change the number of houses that councils are required to plan for - we've taken the decision to pause the process. This will ensure that residents are not consulted on a plan which may quickly become out of date and subject to further changes.
Indications from the Government are that the White Paper will change how local plans - such as the County Durham Plan - calculate the number and type of houses needed as well as how they are then delivered. As the new legislation could require us to make significant changes to the work on the plan so far, the process will now be paused until there is clarity on the proposals in the White Paper so that these can be taken into account before further consultation is carried out.
Cllr Neil Foster, our Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "While we're obviously incredibly disappointed that we cannot proceed with the plan in line with our original timescales, the decision to pause the process now is the only one we could make given the fundamental changes that may be included in the White Paper. It is important that people have the most up to date and robust information so that the consultation is meaningful in planning for the future of their county."
"Publishing a plan without understanding the impact of the White Paper would be a risk which could leave the council being required to revisit parts of the process causing delay. Instead we will reflect on the changes the Government is looking to bring forward and take the extra time we now have to ensure that the County Durham Plan is the right plan for the people who live, work and visit the county."
The County Durham Plan will shape the county up to the year 2033, guiding the amount of new development needed for housing, potential job creation and future retail spaces as well as what infrastructure is needed to support these, such as transport, schools and green spaces. Find out more in our County Durham Plan section.