THE details are beginning to emerge of the grand plan for Durham – city and county. We now know where the county council is minded, subject to consultation of course, to permit the building of 5,000 homes on the western side of the city over the next 20 years.
Arguments about the appropriateness of those sites will rage but also the debate about whether the city can absorb this number of additional citizens. The general thrust of the plan is to use the city as the engine for growth for the county as a whole. The county council seems to be placing all its chips on the city, basing this presumably on the advice that the city has the greatest potential to attract investment.
We can understand why this might be so, but the concern is whether the city can take on the burden of this development without losing the character that has made it the jewel in the county. And what does it mean for the parts of the county too far away to benefit from the super-heated economic miracle that the city is destined to become?
With all those houses will come infrastructure – roads, retail developments and, hopefully, the commercial activity that will provide employment for all the people living in those homes. It is the infrastructure that provides the greatest threat to the city’s unique geographical setting and which the county council will find most difficult to sell as part of its grand plan.