Places and communities need jobs to thrive and be successful. This is why economic growth is a priority nationally, and locally. In Darlington, we need to build on our recent successes attracting and retaining businesses like the DfE, CPI and Modus, and securing new investment like at Feethams, Lingfield Point and Central Park. We are planning to sustain this level of success for the next 20 years.
An ambitious but realistic jobs target policy is proposed. It will reflect the economic growth ambitions of the latest Tees Valley Strategic Economic Plan and the Council’s own Economic Strategy. Research forecasting population change and housing needs indicates that there will be enough working age people to fill all the jobs if the strategic jobs targets were met.
Recent housing needs research shows that about 10,000 new homes will be needed over the next 20 years. A policy setting out the annual housing requirement and how its delivery will be phased is proposed.
New development needs new or improved infrastructure to function effectively. Without certainty around what is needed, who will provide it and when, development sites will not be attractive and the conditions for people already living and doing business in the Borough could worsen.
A policy is proposed to highlight the main items needed, and to link their need unequivocally to economic growth and the delivery of new housing. It might include things like improvements and extensions to the strategic highway network, improvements to facilities and services at Bank Top station, and potentially new rail halts to serve new development.
Good design is central to making attractive places. We intend to reflect this strongly in the new Local Plan, making use of the existing policy framework which is still appropriate and in line with national policy [external link], and to improve the associated Design of New Development Supplementary Planning Document, to cover issues like local amenity and access for people with disabilities, to improve the policy’s overall effectiveness.
The 200th anniversary of the opening of the Darlington and Stockton Railway in 2025 is an opportunity to highlight the importance and quality of Darlington’s rail and other heritage to a wider audience. In addition, a sustained programme of initiatives to improve levels of cycling, walking and public transport use in the Borough, means we are now well positioned to embed and demonstrate exemplar sustainable travel behaviour across the Borough by 2036. The health benefits of this are also being complemented by wider environmental, health and social care service improvements being planned under the Government’s ‘Healthy New Towns’ initiative.
We propose an overarching policy to highlight the Council’s commitment to achieving these ambitions through local planning and place making.