Durham’s County Council should make much greater efforts to rejuvenate and sell empty properties rather than ‘carve up’ the city’s green belt, according to Durham’s UKIP Euro MP, Jonathan Arnott.
The County Durham Plan earmarks land for 5,200 new homes around Durham by 2030, including 4,000 on green belt land.
Durham County Council chiefs say protected countryside must make way for new homes and businesses to reverse the county’s long-standing economic decline.
Arnott said “It is disgraceful that Durham County Council seem quite content to carve up the City’s countryside in order to build new homes, whilst thousands of properties still remain empty.
“Durham is a beautiful city, and we would be far better utilising the land to promote tourism in the local area, rather than make it into yet another look-a-like city centre”.
According to the most recent figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government, Durham is the local authority with the third highest number of vacant dwellings in England.
Sue Childs, from the Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, told a public inquiry into the authority’s 15-year masterplan that the City of Durham could “be left with a cathedral and castle as a token heritage site, encircled by a large housing site”.