Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, has written to Durham County Council to seek clarity about a planned development in Hassockfield and to ask that the application be looked at by the Durham County Council Planning Committee.
Plans were filed for a large housing site in Hassockfield, which would see 127 new houses built, with a mixture of 2, 3- and 4-bedroom houses on the planned site. 20 percent of the site would be affordable housing. The application site covers over 20 acres of land and the project would involve the demolition of the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, which closed in 2015.
Durham County Council (DCC) has recently extended the scope of local authorities, enabling them to delegate any planning decisions to individual officers, allowing the process to be expedited and not subject to the scrutiny of a planning committee. DCC informed Richard and his team that the development and the planning would be determined by the ‘Corporate Director of Regeneration, Economy and Growth’.
Many constituents got in touch with Richard about the planned works as they were concerned that the proper processes for planning applications were not being followed. Richard met with residents of Fairview Drive at Medomsley Edge whose homes are adjacent to the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, to discuss their concerns about how the planning process is being carried out, although Richard made clear to constituents that he is not able to get involved in planning applications as he is MP. Residents shared their concerns that the development would affect the community and that the local infrastructure would not be able to cope with such a huge number of new houses in the area, as well as their concerns about how long the project would potentially take to complete and the impact the building works would have.
Commenting, Richard said ‘Whilst I am not able to get involve in any issues relating to planning, I will always flag procedural concerns relating to any planning process when they arrive. I am really concerned that this application will not be subject to a full planning process. It’s a really significant development which will have a huge impact on local people and the local area. It’s important that constituents feel they can be heard, and their views taken into account. I have made a formal request to the council that this application goes to the planning committee. I will continue to work with residents throughout this process.’
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