The City of Durham Trust

Council withdraws the County Durham Plan

Durham in Poetry: book launch

Our autumn meeting this year is an innovation: instead of a lecture we are launching an anthology, Durham in Poetry. The event is on Saturday, 24th October in Elvet Riverside 1, room 141 at 2.15pm.

The book is edited by the Trust’s Secretary, Dr Douglas Pocock, and seen as complementary to the Trust’s earlier publication, Durham in Paintings. The book is not a work of literary criticism, but a celebration, or evocation, of place. Some three dozen poems have been assembled, ranging from the eleventh century up to the present day.

We are very pleased that David Burnett, David Crane, Alistair Elliot and Anne Stevenson have all not only contributed their poems but have also accepted our invitation to read their poems at the launch.

Durham in Poetry costs £4.50 (non-members) or £4.00 (members). Both book and the Trust’s 2015 Christmas card will be on sale at the meeting, or may be ordered online via the publications page.

Join the Trust

The City of Durham Trust is a membership organisation, and if you care about Durham City you should consider joining us, to support the work we do and influence our policies.

Standard membership costs just £15 a year, with a lower rate of £10 for retired people and discounted joint membership. Life membership is available for £200. This page has an online membership form.

Sign up to our mailing list

Fill in the form below to receive occasional email updates from the Trust. Your email address will remain confidential; we won't pass it to anybody else, nor will we send out mailings on behalf of anybody else. Each newsletter you receive will remind you how you can unsubscribe, and you will also be able to do this via the website.

Tick if you are a member

Plans for the future of County Durham have been set back following Durham County Council’s decision to withdraw the County Durham Plan and produce an ‘amended and refreshed’ version, as part of a compromise deal that also saw the Inspector’s Interim Report quashed.

The City of Durham Trust, along with other objectors, is concerned that the Council intends to re-submit broadly the same policies that the independent Inspector found fault with. We are also disappointed that the Council is disregarding the objectors’ offer to work with them to address the key flaws in the Plan, which are:

We are urging the Council to take note of the July 10th announcement from Business Secretary Sajid Javid that there is ‘no need’ to build on green belt land to meet government housing targets.

The decision to withdraw the County Durham Plan was made as part of a compromise deal following Durham County Council's judicial review challenging the Inspector’s Interim Report into the County Durham Plan. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) accepted one of Durham County Council’s claims that the Inspector’s conduct of the Examination in Public (EiP) of the Plan might have been procedurally unfair. As a result the DCLG has agreed to quash the Inspector’s Interim Report and his subsequent letter refusing to reopen the hearing sessions.

However the DCLG has not conceded that any of the Inspector’s conclusions were wrong. The only point they have agreed is that the Inspector’s conduct of the EiP was procedurally unfair. They have not elaborated on what this means, but we think that it is likely they accepted that the Inspector should have alerted the Council during the Enquiry that the policies it was presenting were likely to be found unsound.

The Trust was asked to sign up to the compromise deal but refused, as we felt, and still feel, that the Inspector’s conduct of the Enquiry was scrupulously fair. The Friends of the Durham Green Belt have taken a similar line. However all the other parties have signed up and we received legal advice that it was highly likely the compromise, technically a Consent Order, would be agreed even if we persisted in our opposition, which from this point forward would become increasingly expensive. The Trust has therefore decided not to persist in its opposition but to conserve our resources for the future.

Withdrawing the County Durham Plan was the last of the three options that the Inspector put to the Council back in February. “Had the Council accepted that then, the residents of County Durham would be seven months closer to having the County Durham Plan agreed,” said Roger Cornwell, Chair of the City of Durham Trust.

He said: “The objectors who attended the EiP felt that the Inspector, Mr Harold Stephens, was scrupulous. There is a very real risk that after two years or more the County Durham Plan will be found unsound by a new Inspector who will take care not to repeat the apparent errors of his or her predecessor, but will still find the same faults that the first Inspector identified.”

There is more about the County Durham Plan in Bulletin 79, published in October 2015.

The County Durham Plan is important for everyone in County Durham because it will set out the new development that is planned for the county. It contains allocations which show where development will take place and how it will be managed. The Plan also contains policies for determining planning applications. As long as there is planning uncertainty developers will seek to exploit this by pursuing their financial interests regardless of the needs of local communities.

2015 Christmas Card

2015 Christmas Card

This year’s card is Durham, by John Dobbin, 1854. The artist (1815-1888) was born in Darlington, but moved to London, where he became a noted water-colourist. He is best known for his widely-reproduced Opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825. (It was depicted on our £5 notes, along with the portrait of George Stephenson, until 2003.)

The view here is that from Aykley Heads. His interest in architectural detail is shown in the detail of the peninsula, Framwellgate Bridge and weir and cluster of riverside buildings. The church towers of St Nicholas - four years before it was replaced with the city's first spire - and St Margaret are clearly visible. The pastoral foreground is somewhat fanciful.

Cards (45p non-members, 40p members) will be on sale at the meeting on October 24th, or you can order online via the publications page.