Site for planned new housing estate on outskirts of Barnard Castle was deemed 'unsuitable'
AN agricultural field identified by a developer as a site to build up to 100 houses was deemed “unsuitable” by Durham County Council last year.
The Banks Group is hosting three public consultations to outline their proposals to build the properties on land to the east of Ashtree Drive, off Darlington Road, in Barnard Castle, this month.
However, according to Durham’s strategic housing land availability assessment (SHLAA), which identifies sites around the county with potential for development, the 4.1-hectare plot is “unsuitable”. The SHLAA, which was published in January 2019 and is part of Durham’s emerging county plan, states: “Development of this site would have a significant adverse impact on a landscape designation. The site is situated within a landscape conservation priority area.
“The development of this site would comprise an incursion into attractive open countryside beyond the newly established settlement edge, not well related to existing settlement form and with greater prominence and impact than development to the west.”
Sites are identified as being “deliverable” in one to five years, “developable” either in the short or long term, “not achievable” and those that are “nearing completion” as well as areas deemed “unsuitable”.
The only plots listed as developable in Barnard Castle have already been built.
The former police station, off Harmire Road, had been previously earmarked for development but has been listed as “not currently achievable” – as has the town’s auction mart site and Smiths Works, in Queen Street. A spokesperson for The Banks Group said detailed landscape and visual assessments of the Darlington Road site have been undertaken since the SHLAA was published. He said the firm has been in discussions with Durham County Council.
The spokesperson added: “With appropriate landscaping mitigation, it is considered that the site can be developed sensitively to integrate with the landscape and settlement.
“There are no other suitable housing sites in Barnard Castle identified in the emerging County Durham Plan.
“The Darlington Road site is located away from the Barnard Castle Conservation Area, lies directly next to bus services and will reduce the need for traffic to pass through the town centre.
“Banks Property believes it provides the most suitable and sustainable location for new homes, enabling families to live in the town and support the local economy at this difficult time.
“As part of the comprehensive community engagement programme for the project, Banks Property has provisionally scheduled three socially-distanced public consultation events at the TCR Hub, off Shaw Bank, in Barnard Castle, which will be held subject to any government restrictions on gatherings of this type taking place at the time and Banks’ own risk assessment processes. Any application for planning permission would be fully assessed by the local planning authority in due course.”
Stuart Timmiss, Durham County Council’s head of development and housing, said: “As we have not yet received an application in respect of the land in Barnard Castle it would not be appropriate to comment at this stage.
“Strategic housing land availability assessments are a technical exercise to determine the quantity and suitability of land potentially available for housing development and they do not have any weight in the planning application process. We consult on all applications as received and carefully consider all points raised by residents as is our normal practice.”
Two online consultations will be held on Monday, September 14, and Wednesday, September 16, both. at 7pm. Visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/darlingtonroad
A socially distanced exhibition will take place at TCR Hub on Tuesday, September 15, from 4pm to 7pm. To reg call 0191 3786100 or email DarlingtonRoadBarnardCastle@banksgroup.co.uk