Jonathan Porritt criticises Durham County Council's 'damaging' economic strategy (From Durham Times)
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Jonathan Porritt criticises Durham County Council's 'damaging' economic strategy
A LEADING environmentalist has slammed a North-East council’s flagship economic strategy as “completely manic, way over the top and unbelievably damaging”.
In an outspoken attack on Durham County Council’s County Durham Plan, Jonathon Porritt said: “I’m not pretending to have local expertise but having looked through the plan it seems to be unbelievably damaging in its expectations for the future.
“The increase in roads, in particular, is totally out of proportion.
“It’s way over the top. It seems completely manic – as if they’ve said: ‘How much growth can we get?’ “We have to question whether Durham should be an economic powerhouse if it means massive damage to the quality of life of people in the city.”
Mr Porritt was speaking to The Northern Echo ahead of addressing a public meeting about sustainable development, held last night in Durham Town Hall.
The campaigner, who lived in Durham for three months last year, said: “I really got to love the city and understand it a bit better.
“We have to question whether Durham should be an economic powerhouse if it means massive damage to the quality of life of people in the city.”Jonathon Porritt
“Everybody talks about how special Durham is and you experience that when you are here in person.
“But that specialness is more fragile than people think.
“Cities like Durham are very vulnerable to the decisions of planners – and their decisions over the past few decades have been pretty mixed.”
The Prince Bishops shopping centre is “not the most elegant”, he added.
He urged the council to take a long-term sustainable perspective on development and growth, saying: “If any city is capable of long-term thinking, it’s Durham.
“It has to keep what’s special about Durham special for all time.
“We must accept there’s going to be low growth for the forseeable future. We’ve got to re-think growth forecasts and make sure we protect the greenbelt area around Durham, which is critical.”
He said that the council should be in listening, and not bullying, mode and encouraged campaigners, saying bad decisions could be overturned.
The County Durham Plan aims to turn County Durham into an economic powerhouse, with 30,000 new homes and 16,000 new jobs by 2030.
For Durham City, it includes 5,000 new homes and two new bypass roads.
Last night’s meeting, called Durham at the Crossroads, had been organised by the Durham City Green Belt Campaign.