The next stage of the County Durham Plan will go before Durham County Council’s Cabinet next week, setting out potential development in the county until 2035.

Councillors will be asked to approve what is known as the Preferred Option stage of the plan ahead of a six-week consultation due to begin later this month.

Based on evidence about the county alongside opportunities and challenges identified by residents and businesses during the last consultation, the plan sets out a range of development proposals as well as planning policies for the county. These will cover housing, businesses and jobs, protection of the historic and natural environment and how infrastructure will come forward to support development, such as major transport links, new or expanded schools and healthcare provision and community facilities.

The plan aims to build on over £3 billion that is currently being invested in the county as part of a range of ambitious developments such as Hitachi in Newton Aycliffe, Auckland Castle and Eleven Arches in Bishop Auckland, the redevelopment of the riverside in Durham City and Integra61 in Bowburn among many others.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “When we first embarked on the plan process the council and its partners showed a level of ambition that we’re delighted to say is already being delivered. We now have a chance of delivering a future for County Durham that builds on that success while protecting and enhancing what already makes it such a great place to live, work and visit.

“We’ve listened very carefully to the feedback received during the last consultation and the result is a different plan but one that we feel that is the right one for County Durham. But it’s vital that everyone joins in the consultation, lets us know what they think and helps shape the future of County Durham.”

To support the continued economic growth of the county and help meet the key aim of more and better jobs for residents, the preferred option would see over 305 hectares of new land developed for business and industry. This would be 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 6,272 new homes across the county needed to meet the Government estimate of 25,992 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 per cent of all homes on developments would have to be designed for older people to better support an aging population. Between 10 and 25 per cent 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 relief roads to the north and west of Durham City and the new Horden Railway Station. It would also protect further land for possible future transport use in Barnard Castle and Bowburn and the potential reintroduction 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.

Cabinet are due to meet at Crook Council Offices at 10am on Wednesday 13 June.