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1.1 The City of Durham (1) is a relatively small District containing a population of approximately 87,700 (2). This population comprises both the main urban area of Durham City and the surrounding settlements. The District covers a total area of about 18,700 hectares, making it one of the more compact local authorities in the County. It is situated mid-way between the industrial conurbations of Tyneside and Teesside astride both the A1(M) and East Coast Main Line and is consequently very accessible to all parts of the region. It is the administrative centre for the County as well as being an important ecclesiastical, educational, tourist and commercial centre. The City of Durham contains many fine buildings (approximately 630 are Listed) and the City Centre is famous for the quality of its architecture and townscape. The Norman Cathedral and Castle in their spectacular setting on the Peninsula above the wooded banks of the River Wear are acknowledged as being of international importance by their designation as a World Heritage Site. The quality of the landscape surrounding Durham City and the fingers of open countryside which penetrate along the valley of the River Wear into the City Centre afford it a unique setting amongst the historic cities of England.
1.2 Under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as amended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991, all land use planning decisions made by a local authority must be based on Development Plans unless material planning considerations indicate otherwise. The Development Plan for Durham is formed by the Durham County Structure Plan, the Durham County Minerals Local Plan, the Durham County Waste Disposal Local Plan and the City of Durham Local Plan.
  Within the context of this legislative framework, the purpose of the City of Durham Local Plan is to:
  • set out the Council's Policies for the control of development; and
  • make proposals for the development and use of land and allocates land for specific purposes.
1.3 The City of Durham Local Plan has been through several extensive consultation exercises since February 1998. These involved statutory consultees, interest and community groups. The final draft of the Plan was approved by the Council for adoption at the Cabinet meeting on 9th February 2004 and was adopted in May 2004.
1.5 The City of Durham Local Plan has not been prepared in isolation but within the context of a broad policy framework that encompasses:
  • National Planning Policy Guidance
  • Regional Planning Guidance
  • Durham County Structure Plan (Adopted 1999)
  • City of Durham Local Plan (Adopted 1988)
  • Other Plans and Policies of the Council and Other Local Authorities.
  National Planning Policy Guidance
1.6 Central Government planning policy advice is issued in the form of Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs). Local planning authorities are expected to have regard to PPGs in the exercise of their planning functions.
1.7 A list of all current PPGs is set out in Appendix 1.
  Regional Planning Guidance
1.8 Regional Planning Guidance for the Northern Region (RPG7) was issued by the Secretary of State for the Environment in September 1993. Its overall theme is to balance the need to regenerate existing urban areas, attract employment to the Region and improve its economic base with the need to safeguard the countryside, forests and coastline. Specific reference is made in it to strengthen Policies aimed at safeguarding the character and the special setting of Durham City. The Council is required to have regard to RPG7 in the preparation of its Local Plan.
1.9 The draft Regional Planning Guidance for the North East was published for consultation in May 1999 and final version was published in November 2002. This replaced RPG7. The new Guidance, which covers the period to 2016, emphasises the value of Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site and the need to protect it, along with the value of the City as a whole in attracting inward investment and helping to promote the region.
  Durham County Structure Plan
1.10 The Durham County Structure Plan provides the strategic planning basis for the City of Durham Local Plan. The Local Plan is required to be in general conformity with the Structure Plan.
1.11 The Durham County Structure Plan was adopted in March 1999 and covers the period up to 2006. The aims of the Structure Plan are:
  (i) to generate and provide for development to meet the social and economic needs of the County's residents in ways which do not compromise the quality of the environment and the quality of life of future generations, in accordance with the principles of sustainability;
  (ii) to create for the people of County Durham the best possible opportunities for work, housing, shopping, education and leisure and for meeting social and community needs, including assisting those within the community with particular disadvantages to improve their quality of life; and
  (iii) to improve and protect the built and natural environment of the County.
  City of Durham Local Plan
1.12 A City of Durham Local Plan was adopted by the Council in June 1988. It covered the whole District and contained the planning policies which the Council has sought to implement over the past decade. This revised Plan affords the Council the opportunity to re-appraise and re-evaluate these Policies in the light of current planning guidance and changing circumstances. The Consultation Draft of the Revised Local Plan was published in February 1998 and the First Deposit Draft was published in February 2000.
  Other Plans and Policies
1.13 The Local Plan has also incorporated, where appropriate, the policies and strategies contained in the following documents which the Council has published and adopted:
  • City of Durham Environmental Charter (1991)
  • Cycling in the City of Durham (1995)
  • City of Durham Leisure Strategy (1996)
  • City Centre Strategy (1997)
  • City of Durham Economic Strategy (1999-2000)
  • City of Durham Corporate Plan (1999)
  • Licensing Strategy for Durham City Centre (1999)
  • City of Durham Housing Strategy and Investment Programme (Annual)
  • City of Durham Local Agenda 21 Strategy (2001)
1.14 In addition, the recommendations of the following three studies have been taken into account in the preparation of the Local Plan:
  • Durham City Travel Study (1997) - commissioned by the Durham County Council and prepared by Colin Buchanan and Partners
  • Decriminalised Parking Enforcement Study (1997) - commissioned by Durham City Council and prepared by RTA Associates
  • A Development Framework for the Heart of Durham (1998) - the Framework is a master plan prepared for the Durham City Partnership (comprising Durham City Council, Durham County Council and English Partnerships) to provide an over-view of development opportunities within the City Centre over the next 15-20 year period. It was prepared by a number of specialist consultants and is a non-statutory planning document.
1.15 The Local Plan is first and foremost a land use plan. It is not a compendium of all the Council's Policies on its other non-planning functions. Aspects of these matters are included only when the policies and proposals directly relate to the development and use of land.
1.16 The following Plans and Policies of other local authorities have also been taken into account in the preparation of the Local Plan:
  • Durham County Waste Disposal Local Plan
  • Magnesian Limestone Escarpment Local Plan
  • County Durham Local Transport Plan
  • County Durham Tourism Strategy
  • Economic Development Strategy For County Durham
  • East and West Durham Rural Development Areas Strategy
  • Durham Biodiversity Action Plan
  • Adjoining District Council's Local Plans
1.17 The Planning and Compensation Act 1991, requires that development plans should include policies for the conservation of the natural beauty and amenity of land and for the improvement of physical environment. The Town and Country Planning Act (Development Plans) Regulations 1991, also require attention to environmental considerations and PPG12 - Development Plans and Regional Planning Guidance recommends that authorities should carry out an Environmental Appraisal as part of the Plan preparation process.
1.18 The Appraisal assesses how the environment has been taken into account in the formulation of the policies and proposals and defines what might be the impact of the Plan's implementation. An Environmental Appraisal has been carried out in the preparation of the City of Durham Local Plan and is published as a separate document.
1.19 Monitoring is the process used to measure the effectiveness of the Plan. It involves assessing the extent to which the Policies are being followed and whether they are having the desired results. It is a continuous process which involves the collection of data on selected indicators of land use and development. These include population change, housing completions, industrial development, progress on major projects and implementation of the Transport Strategy.
1.20 Monitoring will highlight issues which will justify amendment of the Plan. Amendments could be covered by the issue of supplementary planning guidance, such as an interim policy, or formal alterations where:
  • there are fundamental changes of national and strategic policy;
  • the Plan becomes outdated as a result of small, incremental changes;
  • major unforeseen development needs arise.
1.21 In accordance with Government advice, the Plan will be reviewed regularly, and rolled forward to beyond 2006. A review could encompass the types of alteration referred to above, or may involve the replacement by a completely new Plan if many fundamental alterations are required.
1 City of Durham will be referred to as the District and covers the whole administrative area.
  Durham City comprises the main urban area of the District, including the City Centre as described in Paragraph 11.2, as well as Belmont, Carrville, Framwellgate Moor, Newton Hall and Pity Me. It is also referred to as the City.
  Durham City Council (City of Durham District Council) will be referred to as 'the Council' or 'the City Council'.
2 This figure is Census 2001 resident population and includes students and those residing in institutions.
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