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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Darlington Borough Council extend public consultation on “Garden Village” project

A public consultation on the Skerningham “garden village” will be extended because of the national mourning period.

People are invited to give their views on the blueprint, or “design code”, for the Skerningham development.

The development has been controversial, with opponents recently calling for it to be scrapped or taken to a referendum.

The consultation period has now been extended by 10 days to take into account the national period of mourning following the death of the Queen.

The consultation will now end on October 17 – but objectors say the process is still too rushed.

Darlington Borough Council says it will give residents the chance to look at the design blueprint and have their say.

The council says it is meant to ensure a high-quality development which reflects local character and residents’ preferences, becoming a legally enforceable document and part of planning policy for Skerningham.

It says the code will be revised after the consultation and taken to the council cabinet for agreement later this year.

Cllr Alan Marshall

Councillor Alan Marshall, the council’s cabinet member for economy, said: “I want to thank everyone who has shared their views and helped us shape the design code.

“Now is the chance for people to have a look at what has been developed and tell us what they think, so we can ensure the development is built to the highest standard and provides the facilities and amenities people want.”

However objectors still do not want the development at all.

David Clark, a campaigner from the Skerningham Woodland Action Group, said he appreciated the 10-day extension, but said: “We think it’s been a bit rushed, it’s a box to get ticked as quickly as possible.

“It’s such a big development, time needs to be spent to get it right. If you rush something, something could get missed.

“A lot of people don’t want it, but if we’re going to get it, let’s get something good.

“It’s got some errors and some complicated flaws. Let’s get it right.”

He has raised concerns that the design could put a road Skerningham Plantation, known as “Skunny Woods”, though the design code says this will be avoided, and could sever Salters Lane, an ancient packhorse route.

At a council cabinet meeting earlier this month, he said: “We won’t be ignored.

“If the developer or the council think the local communities are just going to sit back and let this happen without a fight, then they’ve sadly underestimated the feeling for Skerningham.

“Can I ask for the council to do a referendum in Darlington to see whether people want Skerningham?”

Cllr Marshall said the Darlington Local Plan containing Skerningham was deemed sound by a planning inspector and detailed matters would be dealt with in future planning applications.

He said: “Everybody will have an opportunity through the consultation process to make their feelings known.”

There will be a drop-in session at Harrowgate Hill WMC and Institute, Salters Lane North, Darlington between 3.30 and 7.30pm on Thursday, September 22. Further details of the consultation can be found on the council’s website.

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