environment campaigner Jonathon Porritt has hit out at long-term plans for major development in County Durham.
The county council wants to build 30,000 new homes and create 16,000 new jobs in commercial developments in the county by 2030.
About 5,000 homes will be built in Durham City and there will be a major office development at Aykley Heads.
Addressing a public meeting at Durham Town Hall, Mr Porritt said the plan is “manic, way over the top and damaging”.
He added: “We have to question whether Durham should be an economic powerhouse if it means massive damage to the quality of life of people in the city.
“I lived in the city for three months and I really got to understand it a bit better.
“Everybody talks about how special Durham is, and you experience that when you are here, but that specialness is more fragile than people think.”
The plan is yet to be finalised, but will probably include bypasses to the north and west of the city.
“That increase in roads is totally out of proportion,” said Mr Porritt.
Dr Douglas Pocock, of the City of Durham Trust conservation group, said there is no convincing evidence that concentrating the county’s economic development in Durham City is the right approach.
Durham County Council says the plan is about sustainable development and residents will be able to have their say in the next stage of the consultation process to be announced shortly.