Anger over golf course housing plans

MP Roberta Blackman-Woods held a well-attended public meeting at Durham Johnston School at Crossgate Moor on the Mount Oswald application.

MP Roberta Blackman-Woods held a well-attended public meeting at Durham Johnston School at Crossgate Moor on the Mount Oswald application.

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PROTESTORS are set to meet this week in a bid to block plans for a housing estate on a controversial green site.

Banks Property has already submitted an outline planning application for a £200million development on the Mount Oswald Golf Club site, in Durham City, which would include 291 houses and a 1,000-bed student accommodation block.

But the bid – set to go before Durham County Council within the next few months – is being opposed by residents.

Roberta Blackman-Woods MP has been among the critics and has called for the scheme to be removed from the County Durham Plan.

The 2004 Local Plan allowed for 10 per cent of the 93-acre site to be developed, but proposals included in the new County Durham Plan, going through public consultation, allow for just over 300 homes to be built on the land.

Dr Blackman-Woods says the proposed new plan, due to come into effect in 2014, assumes that development has already taken place.

She said: “If you look at the 2004 Plan, Mount Oswald was to be protected from development but then, without any public consultation, it has been changed.

“There has been no rationale from Durham County Council as to why they have moved away so radically from the 2004 plan and why they have done that without consultation.

“I know that many residents have written to the council to object to the site’s inclusion in the new emerging plan and I really hope that their concerns are taken on board by Durham County Council and it is removed”.

Dr Blackman-Woods will join Mount Oswald protesters at a stall in the Market Place, in Durham City, on Friday ahead of the November 26 deadline for public consultation on the new County Plan.

Stuart Timmiss, head of planning at Durham County Council, said: “Whilst the local plan does identify land for development, it is important to recognise that it also includes policies which would secure good quality, sustainable development, that would protect existing landscape such as trees and open spaces.

“These policies would also ensure issues around the retention and enhancement of any historic buildings were resolved.”

The accommodation plans by Banks include halls for up to 1,000 students, 16 exclusive self-design homes, 56 executive houses, 250 family homes and community facilities.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham