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What is the County Durham Plan?

All councils are required to have a plan for development in their area known as a Local Plan. Ours is called the County Durham Plan.

The plan sets out a range of development proposals as well as planning policies for the county until 2035.


The County Durham Plan was adopted on 21 October 2020.

The Adoption Statement sets out that the Local Plan and other adoption documents can be viewed on this web page.  This is in light of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 which make temporary changes to how documents are required to be made available under regulation 35 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 ("the 2012 Regulations"). They temporarily remove the requirement on a local planning authority to make documents available for public inspection at the authority's principal office and at such other places as the authority considers appropriate.   The statement also provides details for anyone aggrieved by the adoption of the Local Plan to make an application to the High Court.

The County Durham Plan went through a number of previous stages before being adopted (see County Durham Plan - what's happened so far for further information). It is supported by an evidence base, which is available at County Durham Plan: evidence base.

The new Local Plan replaces the Superseded former District Local Plans.

What's in the County Durham Plan?

The plan presents a vision for potential housing, jobs and the environment until 2035 as well as the transport, schools and healthcare to support it. It's based on evidence about the county, alongside opportunities and challenges identified by residents and businesses during the previous consultation.

These will cover housing, businesses and jobs, protection of the historic and natural environment. They will also cover what should be put in place to support development, such as major transport links, new or expanded schools and healthcare provision and community facilities.

The plan aims to:

  • Continue the economic growth and investment in the county
  • Secure more and better jobs in County Durham
  • Address the causes of climate change and adapt to its affects
  • Create and enhance vibrant communities for all of our towns and villages
  • Provide a wide choice of quality homes to meet everyone's needs and ensure they're built where people want to live, reducing the need to travel
  • Secure the infrastructure to support new development and to relieve congestion and improve air quality
  • Protect the natural and historic environment

Jobs and economy

To support the continued economic growth of the county and help meet the key aim of more and better jobs for residents, the plan includes over 302 hectares of new land developed for business and industry. This is in addition to protecting over 1,500 hectares of existing business and industrial land to prevent any other use. The plan would also include policies to support town centres and allow the council to take a more flexible approach to supporting businesses in rural areas, encouraging the local economy while protecting the environment.


The plan shows the proposed locations for the 5,390 new homes across the county needed to meet the Government estimate of 24,852 by 2035. The plan aims to locate the new homes in the right places to capitalise on the investment happening around the county as well as reducing the need to travel.

Measures would also be introduced as part of the plan to ensure that a wide range of quality homes are built to meet the needs of residents. This would see a requirement that 10% of all homes on developments would have to be designed for older people to better support an aging population. Between 10% and 25% would also have to be affordable homes, depending on the location. New housing would come alongside the council's ongoing measures to bring empty homes back into use across the county.


The plan includes policies relating to the protection of over 250,000 hectares of County Durham's natural environment including important landscapes, wildlife areas, open spaces, woods and parklands to ensure that they cannot be used for development.

It will also make sure that new developments in and around our historic towns and villages complement both the history and heritage of existing buildings as well as the natural landscape.


In order to support the development across the county up to 2035, the plan also outlines new infrastructure including safeguarding routes for possible future transport use in Bowburn and the potential reopening of the Leamside railway line.

The plan also sets out how developers will be required to contribute towards such things as new, improved or expanded schools and healthcare provision such as doctors' surgeries alongside parks and community facilities.