Chapter 4 - Housing
   
BACKGROUND
OBJECTIVES
 
Policies and Proposals:
HOUSING PROVISION
NEW HOUSING
HOUSING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
AFFORDABLE HOUSING
NEW HOUSING DESIGN
EXISTING RESIDENTIAL AREAS
SPECIALIST HOUSING
   
   
 
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BACKGROUND
4.1 The 1991 Census enumerated a resident population for the Borough of 98,900, of whom 86,300 lived in the urban area, making Darlington the largest town in the then county of Durham. The nearest larger urban areas are the Teesside and Tyneside conurbations and York.
4.2 The figures show only a slight increase over the previous ten years, from 98,700 in 1981. However, the number of dwellings in 1991 was 41,567, an increase of 3,027 since 1981. Households are getting smaller, fewer people are sharing homes, and there has been a significant increase in the numbers of young and old.
4.3 The rate of construction of new dwellings has, in recent years, exceeded that anticipated in the current Durham County Structure Plan.
4.4 Strategic planning policy in recent years has encouraged new housing development to be located in and around the town, with limited infill in some of the larger villages, and only essential housing in the countryside.
4.5 The Council has constantly sought to ensure that there is a good supply of housing land available in a variety of locations. There is regular liaison with private house builders, housing associations and others to seek agreement on housing land availability in accordance with Government advice.
4.6 In parallel with its functions as planning authority, the Council as housing authority is responsible for preparing and reviewing a Housing Strategy Statement. This addresses the nature and location of housing need and demand in the Borough. The Plan provides a longer term land use planning framework to assist the implementation of the Strategy.
 
OBJECTIVES
4.7 The Council's objectives for housing, to be pursued through the policies and proposals of the Plan, are:
  i) To make provision for sufficient housing to meet the needs of local people and people moving into the area;
  ii) To allocate sufficient land to meet the need for new housing up to 2006;
  iii) To concentrate new development in or adjacent to the town;
  iv) To encourage housing development on suitable disused or under-used land and buildings;
  v) To limit new development in the villages in order to maintain their character;
  vi) To make provision for enough affordable housing to meet the needs of those who are unable to buy or rent at market rates;
  vii) To make provision for housing for those with special needs e.g. the elderly, people with disabilities and those requiring special care, particularly near the town centre and other centres;
  viii) To improve the environment and housing conditions of older housing areas.
     
 
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Policies and Proposals:
 
HOUSING PROVISION
 
POLICY H1 - Supply of Housing Land
  A SUPPLY OF LAND ADEQUATE TO MEET HOUSING REQUIREMENTS FOR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS AHEAD WILL BE CONSTANTLY MAINTAINED. THIS SHOULD MAKE PROVISION FOR A WIDE RANGE OF DWELLING TYPES AND SIZES IN A VARIETY OF LOCATIONS TO MEET IDENTIFIED NEED AND DEMAND FROM ALL SECTIONS OF THE COMMUNITY.
     
4.8 The Borough Council has undertaken jointly with the House Builders Federation and the Tees Valley authorities a study of land availability for private housing development in the Borough over the five year period 1997-2002. The Study indicates that using the housing requirement figure for Darlington of 4,450 dwellings over the period 1991-2006 contained in the Darlington Structure Plan as the basis for calculating the Borough's housing requirement over the study period, the Borough has an adequate supply of sites to meet projected requirements to beyond 2002.
4.9 Some of this land has planning permission. The balance is committed by development plan allocations, or on a non-statutory basis e.g. supplementary planning guidance or other Council resolution. Sites in all of these categories are identified in the Council's Housing Land Schedule, which is reviewed annually.
4.10 The Council will encourage developers to make provision for all sections of the community. Their attention will be drawn to needs identified by the Council as housing authority through, for example, the Housing Strategy Statement and local surveys.
4.11 Encouragement will also be given to the development of smaller sites within easy access of public transport, shops and other community facilities for housing to meet the specialist needs of, for example, the elderly, single people, those with disabilities or those in need of care. Provision of a mix of housing types will be encouraged on the larger new housing sites. The Council will normally expect development to maintain existing densities or, where it is in keeping with the established residential character and appearance of the area, to increase them.
4.12 Depending on the outcome of a Borough-wide housing needs assessment, provision of low-cost housing may also be sought on some of the larger new housing sites (Policy H9). Special provision is made for exceptional cases where a need for housing in the rural areas which cannot be met by other Plan policies is identified (Policy H10).
4.13 Provision is also made for housing suitable for people with disabilities (Policy H14), accommodation for smaller households through the sub-division of larger dwellings (Policy H18), hostels and accommodation for those in need of care (Policy H19), and gypsy sites (Proposal H20 and Policy H21).
 
POLICY H2 - Level of Housing Provision
  LAND, COMPRISING SITES OF 0.4ha OR ABOVE, WILL BE ALLOCATED TO ACCOMMODATE APPROXIMATELY 1000 NEW DWELLINGS BETWEEN 1995 AND 2006. THE SITES ARE IDENTIFIED IN PROPOSAL H5.
     
4.14 This provision is additional to the anticipated contribution from sites already with planning permission and other unidentified sites which is set out as follows:
   
 
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Category
April
1995
April
1999
Completions April 1991 onwards
917
24,79(1)
Sites under construction, with planning permission, and otherwise committed
1,634
578
Small sites to March 2006
385
245
Windfall sites to March 2006
225
175
Total
3,161
3,477
1 Allows for 63 dwellings built on allocated sites, and 10 dwellings demolished, between April 1995 and March 1999
   
4.15 The overall requirement for the years 1991-2006 is for 4,450 new dwellings to be completed. It allows for 4,400 additional houses to accommodate an increase in population to 101,000 and a reduction in average household size. The balance provides for a relatively small number of dwellings to be demolished. It allows for continuation of housebuilding at the rate experienced over the years 1980-1995. The Plan as adopted identified a requirement for land to be allocated for approximately 1300 dwellings, based on the April 1995 figures set out above. The Plan as altered identifies a requirement for approximately 1000 dwellings, based on the April 1999 figures. The latter take into account higher than previously anticipated contributions, to 2006 from sites under construction, with planning permission and otherwise committed, and from April 1995 to March 1999 from completions on small sites and windfall sites.
4.16 Small sites are those under 0.4 hectares, together with conversions. These are not identified except in the area covered by the Central Area Inset (Proposals Map, Map 4) (Proposal H5).
4.17 The 'sites under construction, with planning permission and otherwise committed' category refers only to sites of 0.4ha or more. The category only includes sites which, following a recent re-appraisal for the Plan, are considered to be likely to be developed by 2006.
4.18 Since 1981, the number of dwellings built on small sites and the number of conversions has gradually increased, reflecting an increased emphasis on the provision of housing to meet the needs of smaller households and the development or redevelopment of smaller urban sites. This trend is expected to continue. An overall completion rate of 35 dwellings per annum, from April 1999 onwards, is anticipated. At that date there was already capacity to meet requirements in this category on sites with planning permission and sites identified in the annual Housing Land Schedule.
4.19 Windfall sites are those sites of 0.4ha or more where development cannot be anticipated by the Plan, for example through redevelopment of sites in other uses. An overall completion rate of 25 dwellings per annum is anticipated, from April 1999 onwards, based on an assessment of recent previously unidentified developments on sites of between 0.4ha and 1ha which accord with the policies in the Plan. At that date there was already capacity to meet requirements in this category on sites already with planning permission and sites identified in the annual Housing Land Schedule.
 
NEW HOUSING
   
 
POLICY H3 - Locations for New Housing Development
  NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT WILL NORMALLY BE APPROVED WITHIN THE DEVELOPMENT LIMITS OF THE URBAN AREA OF DARLINGTON AND THE FOLLOWING VILLAGES AND OTHER PLACES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, PROVIDED THAT THE SITE IS NOT SPECIFICALLY PROPOSED OR SAFEGUARDED FOR ANOTHER USE AND THAT THE DEVELOPMENT ACCORDS WITH OTHER PLAN POLICIES. DEVELOPMENT WILL NORMALLY BE EXPECTED TO MAINTAIN EXISTING DENSITIES AND WHERE APPROPRIATE INCREASE THEM. THE SPECIFIED VILLAGES AND OTHER PLACES TO WHICH THIS POLICY APPLIES ARE:
   
 
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BARMPTON; HIGH CONISCLIFFE; MIDDLETON ST. GEORGE;
BEAUMONT HILL; HURWORTH; NEASHAM;
BISHOPTON; HURWORTH PLACE; OAK TREE;
BRAFFERTON; KILLERBY; PIERCEBRIDGE;
DENTON; LITTLE STAINTON; REDWORTH;
GREAT BURDON; LOW CONISCLIFFE; SADBERGE;
GREAT STAINTON; MERRYBENT; SUMMERHOUSE;
HEIGHINGTON; MIDDLETON ONE ROW; VIRGINIA ESTATE.
   
4.20 The development limits are defined in Policy E2 and identify areas in which housing and other development may be acceptable, in order to consolidate the existing settlement framework and avoid extensions into the countryside. They take account of the character of existing development and the surrounding countryside, drainage and other infrastructure, and accessibility. They are subject to reconsideration at each review of the Plan.
4.21 For the purposes of this policy, housing development includes the following:
  i) a new building used for residential purposes;
  ii) the change to residential use of the whole or part of an existing building; or
  iii) a residential caravan in permanent occupation.
  Areas proposed or safeguarded for other purposes are identified on the Proposals Map. The latter also identifies areas within which specific policies which would affect housing proposals apply. A large number of additional policies apply generally throughout the Borough.
   
 
POLICY H4 - New Housing Development in and Around the Town Centre and Other Centres
  THE COUNCIL WILL ENCOURAGE THE PROVISION OF RESIDENTIAL ACCOMMODATION IN, OR WITH EASY ACCESS TO, THE TOWN CENTRE, DISTRICT AND LOCAL CENTRES, AND LOCAL SHOPPING AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES, PARTICULARLY ON REDUNDANT, DISUSED OR UNDER-USED LAND AND IN PARTS OF BUILDINGS SUCH AS UPPER FLOORS. SUCH ACCOMMODATION SHOULD, WHEREVER POSSIBLE, PROVIDE FOR THE NEEDS OF SMALLER HOUSEHOLDS, THE ELDERLY AND THOSE WITH DISABILITIES, TOGETHER WITH LOCAL NEEDS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING.
   
4.22 Such locations meet the requirements of these groups for easy access to shopping, recreational and community facilities, and public transport.
4.23 A continuous supply of suitably located land and buildings is anticipated:
  i) through sites proposed in the Plan;
  ii) through the emergence of small sites and conversions;
  iii) through the development of upper floors over shops;
  iv) through the release of land in Council ownership;
  v) in conjunction with proposals for the reclamation of derelict land and buildings; and
  vi) where land and buildings otherwise become vacant or redundant, particularly if continuation of their existing use is undesirable in the context of other policies.
   
4.24 In these circumstances the Council will seek the involvement of housing associations in the provision of social housing (i.e. to meet the specialist needs of disadvantaged groups) and securing affordability (Policy H9). The Council was involved in a 'Living Over the Shop' initiative in 1994.
   
 
PROPOSAL H5 - New Housing Development Sites
  THE FOLLOWING SITES ARE PROPOSED FOR NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT:
 
 
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Site area
(ha)
Dwelling
capacity
(1995 estimate)
Comple-
tions
1995-99
Anticipated
contribution
1999-2006
Sites where construction had commenced April 1999:
1. HARROWGATE HILL RESERVOIR
1.7
50
16
34*
9. TEES GRANGE FARM
1
12
3
8*
10. GREENBANK HOSPITAL
0.8
25
nil
41*
11. HARROWGATE FARM
12
300
5
268*
12. MT. PLEASANT, MIDDLETON ST. GEORGE
2.3
65
39
21*
Sub-total
17.8
452
63
372*
Sites without planning permission April 1999:
4. EAST HAVEN
1.9
60
nil
60
5. ROSEMARY COURT
0.7
30
nil
30
6. PARKSIDE
1.8
49
nil
49
7. SMITHFIELD ROAD
2
56
nil
56
8. CLIFTON ROAD
2.2
92
nil
nil
13. AYCLIFFE HOSPITAL
8.8
150
nil
75
17. HUNDENS LANE
1.6
35
nil
35
18. NEASHAM ROAD
1.1
30
nil
30
19. SNIPE HOUSE FARM
4.3
125
nil
125
20. CLEVELAND TERRACE
0.8
12
nil
12
21. WEST AUCKLAND ROAD
8
150
nil
150
Sub-total
33.2
789
nil
622
Total sites of 0.4 ha or more
51
1,241
63
994
Small sites:
14. VICTORIA ROAD
0.3
30
nil
13
16. KENDREW STREET
0.2
25
nil
25
* dwellings with planning permission        
   
4.25 The sites are identified on the Proposals Map. (Note that there are no sites H5.2, H5.3 or H5.15. Planning permission was granted before April 1995 for the sites previously identified H5.2 and H5.15. The allocation of the site previously identified H5.3 was quashed by the High Court in June 1998.)
4.26 Proposal H5.8 (Clifton Road) involves the redevelopment of the site of the existing cattle market. As it is not possible to timetable the relocation and / or cessation of this use, the proposal is not assumed to contribute towards the overall requirement for new dwellings identified in Policy H2 and paragraph 4.14.
4.27 Nine previously uncommitted sites are proposed (H5.1, H5.10, H5.11, H5.13, H5.17, H5.18, H5.19, H5.20 and H5.21), following an appraisal of a number of alternatives within and around the urban area and the villages. They have the following characteristics which make them suitable for development:
  i) Harrowgate Hill Reservoir (H5.1) is a derelict site within the urban area, surrounded by housing, and with easy access to the main road and public transport networks. It is prominently located on one of the main road approaches to the town and development should comply with Policy E10 (protection of key townscape and landscape features).
  ii) Greenbank Hospital (H5.10) is a site which has become surplus to health requirements. The site, which is within an established residential area close to the town centre, is suitable for housing, together with the provision of some public open space to make good existing deficiencies in the area.
   
 
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  iii) Harrowgate Farm (H5.11) uses land of little agricultural value, is well contained by Burtree Lane, the existing housing development to the south, the industrial development on Whessoe Road to the west, and the higher land to the north, and provides an opportunity to introduce public open space provision which can serve existing housing areas in addition. Developers will need to make provision for improvements to Burtree Lane, adjacent to the site, and the junction between Burtree Lane and North Road, pursuant to Policy T12 (new development - road capacity). All vehicular access to the site shall be from Burtree Lane.
  iv) Aycliffe Hospital (H5.13) is a site which has become surplus to health requirements. The buildings do not generally lend themselves to alternative community uses, neither is the site well located for them. Housing is considered to be an acceptable alternative use for the already developed area, retaining existing trees and open areas, and using existing infrastructure wherever possible. Development should be limited to a maximum area of 8.8ha, within the area identified on the Proposals Map (Policy H6). The site could also accommodate public open space and community uses to serve the development and the housing to the north. The site is expected to contribute only in part (maximum 75 dwellings) to the requirement for additional dwellings on newly-allocated sites identified in Policy H2.
  v) Hundens Lane (H5.17) uses part of an area previously used for school playing fields. Development should be in conjunction with the reservation of the remaining land for the provision of playing pitches for public use, pursuant to Proposal R10 (Eastbourne playing pitches).
  vi) Neasham Road (H5.18) is an industrial site adjacent to a local centre.
  vii) Snipe House Farm (H5.19) uses land of little agricultural value, immediately to the south of the existing housing at Skerne Park, and is separated from the open countryside to the south by the A66(T) Darlington southern bypass. It provides an opportunity to introduce a playing field to serve a larger area. The southern boundary will be prominent from the A66 and development should comply with Policy E10 (protection of key townscape and landscape features) and Policy E49 (noise sensitive development).
  viii) Cleveland Terrace (H5.20) uses disused land within the urban area previously part of school playing fields.
  ix) West Auckland Road (H5.21) is a derelict site, previously in industrial use, within the urban area. Development should be in conjunction with any works necessary to ensure the stability of the tipped land to the west, and with improvements to the appearance of the latter in accordance with Policy E17 (landscape improvement).
     
4.28 All of the sites are considered to be capable of development within the Plan period. Ground conditions, infrastructure requirements and land ownerships are not expected to present any insuperable problems.
   
 
POLICY H6 - Aycliffe Hospital
  NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT ON THE SITE OF AYCLIFFE HOSPITAL (PROPOSAL H5.13) WILL BE LIMITED TO A SCHEME WITH A MAXIMUM AREA OF 8.8ha, WITHIN THE AREA IDENTIFIED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP AND BASED ON THE EXISTING DEVELOPED AREA AND ACCESS. DESIGN, DENSITY, LAYOUT AND LANDSCAPING SHOULD RESPECT THE EXISTING PARKLAND SETTING, MAINTAINING VISUAL SEPARATION FROM SCHOOL AYCLIFFE AND NEWTON AYCLIFFE. EXISTING TREES AND HEDGEROWS SHOULD BE RETAINED. THE SCHEME FOR DEVELOPMENT MUST ACCORD WITH A PLANNING BRIEF FOR THE WHOLE SITE, TO INCLUDE LAYOUT, ACCESS, DESIGN, OPEN SPACE AND LANDSCAPING, AND TO BE APPROVED BY THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY. THE BRIEF WILL INCLUDE PROVISION FOR THE FOLLOWING:
  1. THE RE-USE, AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, OF LAND AREAS PREVIOUSLY OCCUPIED BY BUILDINGS, ROADS AND HARDSTANDINGS;
   
 
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  2. THE CONSERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF THE LANDSCAPE SETTING OF THE SITE;
  3. THE RECLAMATION OF ANY RESIDUAL LAND AREAS PREVIOUSLY OCCUPIED BY BUILDINGS, ROADS AND HARDSTANDINGS;
  4. THE LAYOUT AND DESIGN OF PUBLIC OPEN SPACE IN ACCORDANCE WITH OTHER PLAN POLICIES;
  5. THE LANDSCAPING AND USE OF THE REMAINING UNDEVELOPED LAND WITHIN THE SITE;
  6. THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE HEALTH AND SAFETY EXECUTIVE IN RESPECT OF REDEVELOPMENT IN THE VICINITY OF HAZARDOUS INSTALLATIONS; AND
  7. THE ADAPTATION OF THE EXISTING ACCESS, ALTHOUGH ALTERNATIVE ACCESS ARRANGEMENTS, APPROPRIATE TO THE SCALE OF THE DEVELOPMENT, WILL BE CONSIDERED IF IT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED THAT THESE ARE NECESSARY TO SAFEGUARD EXISTING TREES AND HEDGEROWS AND THE LANDSCAPE SETTING OF THE SITE, AND WOULD PROVIDE IMPROVED HIGHWAY SAFETY CONDITIONS AT THE JUNCTION WITH SCHOOL AYCLIFFE LANE.
     
4.29 Proposal H5.13 seeks to secure a satisfactory replacement use on a previously developed site in the countryside. The site is the subject of attractive distant views, and is also clearly separated from the housing at School Aycliffe. The existing buildings are separated by open landscaped areas which soften distant views, and it is important that redevelopment retains this characteristic.
4.30 It is important that the site is redeveloped comprehensively and that open space and structural landscaping are implemented as an integral part of the proposal. The views of the Health and Safety Executive are important as part of the site lies within an area where consultation with their Major Hazards Assessment Unit is required in respect of major housing developments, educational establishments and institutional accommodation (the industrial site to the north-east includes a hazardous installation).
 
HOUSING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
   
 
POLICY H7 - Areas of Housing Development Restraint
  IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, OUTSIDE THE DEVELOPMENT LIMITS, NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED WHERE:
  1. IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE PROPER FUNCTIONING OF A FARM OR FORESTRY ENTERPRISE FOR A FARM OR FORESTRY WORKER TO LIVE AT OR IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF HIS / HER PLACE OF WORK; OR
  2. IT INVOLVES THE CONVERSION OF AN EXISTING STRUCTURALLY SOUND BUILDING WITHOUT ADVERSELY AFFECTING ITS CHARACTER OR THAT OF ITS SETTING; OR
  3. IT INVOLVES THE SUBDIVISION OF AN EXISTING RESIDENTIAL BUILDING; OR
  4. IT EXTENDS AN EXISTING RESIDENTIAL BUILDING WITHOUT MATERIALLY DETRACTING FROM ITS CHARACTER OR THAT OF ITS SETTING.
     
4.31 Strict control of development outside the development limits identified on the Proposals Map (Policy E2) is essential to safeguard the character of the countryside and the villages, to make best use of existing infrastructure and community provision, and to minimise essential travel requirements.
4.32 For the purposes of this policy new residential development includes the following:
  i) a new building to be used for residential purposes;
   
 
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  ii) substantial extensions to an existing residential building, such as to fundamentally change its character or provide the opportunity for sub-division for use as a separate dwelling unit;
  iii) the change to residential use of the whole or part of an existing building;
  iv) the sub-division of an existing residential building to form additional residential units;
  v) a residential caravan in permanent occupation;
  vi) the rebuilding of a building previously used for residential purposes involving the replacement of the whole or the bulk of the fabric of the building;
  vii) the re-establishment of residential use of an abandoned dwelling.
   
4.33 In exceptional circumstances a new dwelling may be necessary for occupation by a farm or forestry worker, to allow, for example, a minimum essential level of supervision or the ability to respond rapidly to emergencies. Evidence of need must be provided by the applicant and should normally include a detailed assessment by an independent person or body. Permission will not normally be granted if there are existing dwellings or buildings suitable for extension, sub-division or conversion, or unoccupied dwellings which are available and well-related to the workplace. The Council will investigate the history of a holding to establish the recent pattern of use of land and buildings, where a suitable dwelling has formerly been available.
4.34 The change-of-use of structurally sound existing buildings of visual, architectural or historic interest may be permitted where the character of the building and surroundings is not detrimentally affected (Policy E5). The insertion of windows, and the addition, for example, of chimneys, porches, dormers and the creation of external garaging and garden areas can be difficult to achieve without unacceptably altering the character of rural buildings and their surroundings.
4.35 Large extensions to dwellings (for example by 50% or more of the floorspace of the original dwelling) and extensions to their curtilages often have an unacceptable impact on the landscape, and will not normally be permitted in such circumstances in the context of Policies E2 and E7.
   
 
POLICY H8 - Agricultural Occupancy
  NEW DWELLINGS WHICH ARE ESSENTIAL TO ENABLE FARM OR FORESTRY WORKERS TO LIVE AT OR IN THE IMMEDIATE VICINITY OF THEIR PLACE OF WORK WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE:
  1. SUBJECT TO AN APPROPRIATE CONDITION AND / OR LEGAL AGREEMENT RESTRICTING OCCUPANCY; AND
  2. SITED IN A LOCATION WHICH IS WELL RELATED TO THE ACTIVITY AND TO OTHER DWELLINGS; AND
  3. OF A SIZE COMMENSURATE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ACTIVITY.
   
4.36 These requirements are necessary to ensure that the exception to the Plan policies restricting the construction of new dwellings in the countryside, contained in Policy H7, is not abused.
4.37 Occupation will be limited by condition and / or legal agreement. Such a condition or agreement will not normally be lifted unless it can be established, after a detailed assessment, that there is no longer a need for the dwelling on the holding / business or in the area.
4.38 Where an agricultural or other enterprise is being developed and long term viability has not been achieved, permission can normally only be justified on a probationary basis; that is, for a temporary dwelling subject to a short time limit.
 
AFFORDABLE HOUSING
   
 
POLICY H9 - Meeting Affordable Housing Needs
  THE COUNCIL WILL INSTITUTE, AND KEEP UNDER REVIEW, ASSESSMENTS OF NEEDS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND OTHER SPECIALIST HOUSING NEEDS. THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK TO NEGOTIATE WITH DEVELOPERS FOR AN ELEMENT OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON NEW HOUSING SITES WITHIN DEVELOPMENT LIMITS, WHERE A LOCAL NEED HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED.
   
 
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4.39 The Council has resolved to institute, and keep under review, assessments of needs for affordable housing and other specialist housing needs, to assist in developing policies for securing an adequate supply of affordable housing. The term 'affordable housing' encompasses the range of both subsidised and market housing designed for those whose incomes generally deny them the opportunity to purchase houses on the open market as a result of the local relationship between income and market price. A particular concern is to ensure that there is an adequate supply of affordable houses to help young people setting up home.
4.40 Affordable housing can take a number of forms. Housing provided by local authorities and housing associations (currently about a fifth of the Borough's housing stock and new house construction) is an important contributor to overall provision. In the urban area, bringing vacant buildings back into use (such as through 'living over the shop' schemes) and sub-division of large houses can make an important contribution, as can the provision of higher density market housing. The Council has not identified any significant outstanding unmet need. It has, in the past, successfully sought the provision of well-located local authority and housing association development through its land acquisition and disposal policy. Market conditions have also enabled the private sector to make a significant contribution without direct intervention by the Council.
4.41 The housing policies in the Plan assume that this situation will continue. They must, however, anticipate the desirability of seeking specific provision as part of the development of larger new housing sites, particularly those which are of sufficient size (either on their own or in conjunction with neighbouring development) to require and support neighbourhood facilities (the latter include local shopping, public transport, recreational open space and other local community activities). At April 1995, there was outstanding capacity for approximately 100 dwellings on unallocated sites owned by the Council and specifically reserved for local authority / housing association development. Of the sites allocated under Policy H5, sites H5.4, H5.5, H5.8, H5.10, H5.14 H5.16 and H5.18 are considered to be particularly suitable in terms of size and location for the provision of affordable housing. All except H5.10 and H5.18 are owned by the Council. The remaining sites are also considered to be suitable for contributing in part.
4.42 Aspects of need which would will be considered include:
  i) existing residents in the area in shared, overcrowded or otherwise unsuitable accommodation;
  ii) first-time buyers or newly married couples living within the area;
  iii) persons dependent on a household living in the area;
  iv) older people or people with disabilities living within the area and who need more specialist accommodation;
  v) households which include persons employed in the area or about to take up an offer of employment in the area and who need to live locally;
  vi) people with established kinship ties with the area.
   
 
POLICY H10 - Affordable Housing in the Rural Area
  IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES, RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT TO MEET IDENTIFIED LOCALISED NEEDS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING MAY BE PERMITTED ON SITES ADJACENT AND WELL-RELATED TO VILLAGES WITH ADEQUATE LOCAL FACILITIES, PROVIDED THAT A SUITABLE SITE CANNOT BE FOUND WITHIN THE DEVELOPMENT LIMITS, AND PROVIDED THAT:
   
 
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  1. THE NEEDS ARE SUBSTANTIATED; AND,
  2. THE NEEDS CANNOT BE MET IN ANY OTHER WAY; AND,
  3. PROVISION IS MADE TO MEET THOSE NEEDS IN PERPETUITY; AND,
  4. THE DEVELOPMENT IS OF SMALL SCALE, REFLECTING AND RESPECTING ITS SURROUNDINGS.
   
4.43 Most people living in the villages and rural area look to Darlington and centres outside the Borough for employment and leisure pursuits, but there will continue to be people who will need to work and live there.
4.44 Proposal H5.12 makes specific provision for a further 65 houses on a site at Middleton St George, and there are planning permissions for other sites of 0.4 hectare or above at Middleton St. George, Hurworth and Sadberge with a capacity of over 200 dwellings. Opportunities for further new development in the villages are largely limited to infill.
4.45 The following categories of need will be considered:
  i) where it would be desirable for social and community reasons for long-established residents to have separate accommodation in the area, for example newly married couples and people leaving tied accommodation on retirement;
  ii) where people provide important local services and there would be significant benefit to the community served in their being housed nearby;
  iii) where people have long standing links with the local community which it would be desirable to reinforce, for example, to facilitate the care of elderly or relatives with disabilities.
     
  4.46 Justification must be provided by assessments of affordable housing needs undertaken by or for the Council as housing authority (Policy H9). Appropriate local facilities include a primary school, convenience shopping, a post office, a public house, and bus services. Suitable villages include Middleton St. George, Hurworth, Hurworth Place, Heighington, High Coniscliffe and Sadberge. The areas within which needs will be considered to be local will be centred on these villages.
 
NEW HOUSING DESIGN
   
 
POLICY H11 - Design and Layout of New Housing Development
  THE DESIGN AND LAYOUT OF NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT WILL BE REQUIRED TO:
  1. RELATE WELL TO THE SURROUNDING AREA, RESPECT ITS PREDOMINANT CHARACTER AND DENSITY, AND AVOID DAMAGE TO THE AMENITIES OF ADJOINING PROPERTIES;
  2. PROVIDE AN ATTRACTIVE, EFFICIENT AND SAFE RESIDENTIAL ENVIRONMENT;
  3. PROVIDE ADEQUATE PRIVACY IN THE ROOMS, GARDENS AND OTHER OUTDOOR AREAS OF THE PROPOSED DWELLINGS AND EXISTING ADJACENT PROPERTY;
  4. PROVIDE ADEQUATE DAYLIGHT AND SUNLIGHT ENTERING THE PRINCIPAL ROOMS OF THE PROPOSED DWELLINGS AND EXISTING ADJACENT PROPERTY;
  5. PROVIDE ADEQUATE GARAGING OR CAR PARKING AND OTHER PRIVATE AMENITY SPACE WITHIN INDIVIDUAL DWELLING CURTILAGES IN ACCORDANCE WITH POLICY T24;
  6. PROVIDE CONVENIENT AND SAFE PEDESTRIAN ACCESS TO RECREATIONAL FACILITIES (E.G. CHILDREN'S PLAY AREAS AND PLAYING FIELDS) AND OTHER LOCAL SERVICES (E.G. SHOPS AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT);
     
 
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  7. DISCOURAGE UNAUTHORISED PUBLIC ACCESS TO ADJOINING AGRICULTURAL LAND;
  8. PROVIDE CONVENIENT AND SAFE ROAD ACCESS FOR RESIDENTS, VISITORS AND SERVICE VEHICLES IN ACCORDANCE WITH POLICY T13;
  9. INCORPORATE EXISTING WILDLIFE HABITATS AND LANDSCAPE FEATURES, WHEREVER APPROPRIATE, AND PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CREATION OF NEW WILDLIFE HABITATS; AND
  10. LOCATE ANY DWELLINGS PROVIDED FOR THE ELDERLY OR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WITHIN 200m OF BUS STOPS.
     
4.47 Housing development proposals will be assessed having regard to the Plan's policies applicable to new development generally. External materials used for buildings, roads and footpaths should respect and enhance their surroundings. The design, layout and density of residential development should respect the existing characteristics of the site and its surroundings and provide a safe and amenable living environment for all residents and visitors.
4.48 The provision of adequate space around dwellings is an important element in achieving this aim. It can provide for adequate sunlight and daylight, privacy, children's play, gardening and future extensions to dwellings, and assist in achieving a high standard of design and layout.
   
 
POLICY H12 - Alterations and Extensions to Existing Dwellings
  ALTERATIONS AND EXTENSIONS TO EXISTING DWELLINGS WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:
  1. THEY ARE IN KEEPING WITH THE CHARACTER, DESIGN AND EXTERNAL APPEARANCE OF THE PROPERTY;
  2. THEY ARE IN KEEPING WITH THE STREET SCENE AND SURROUNDING AREA;
  3. THEY MAINTAIN ADEQUATE DAYLIGHT ENTERING THE PRINCIPAL ROOMS OF NEARBY BUILDINGS;
  4. THEY MAINTAIN ADEQUATE PRIVACY IN THE ROOMS, GARDENS AND OTHER OUTDOOR AREAS OF NEARBY BUILDINGS;
  5. THEY ARE NOT OVERBEARING WHEN VIEWED FROM NEIGHBOURING PROPERTIES; AND,
  6. THEY MAINTAIN ADEQUATE GARAGING OR CAR PARKING AND OTHER EXTERNAL SPACE WITHIN THE CURTILAGE.
   
4.49 It is important that alterations and extensions respect and reflect the characteristics of their surroundings. The amenity of neighbours living or working in nearby dwellings or other buildings needs to be protected. Sufficient space should be left within the curtilage of the dwelling to accommodate adequate garden and amenity areas, and garaging and car parking, in accordance with Policies H11 and T24.
   
 
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POLICY H13 - Backland Development
  PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR RESIDENTIAL BACKLAND DEVELOPMENT WHICH UNACCEPTABLY CONFLICTS WITH:
  1. THE FREE AND SAFE FLOW OF TRAFFIC;
  2. THE PRIVACY AND QUIET ENJOYMENT OF NEIGHBOURING DWELLINGS AND GARDENS IN GENERAL, AND OF DWELLINGS WHICH ADJOIN ANY PROPOSED ACCESSWAY IN PARTICULAR; OR
  3. THE SCALE AND CHARACTER OF THE SURROUNDING DEVELOPMENT.
   
4.50 Backland development comprises development to the rear of existing houses, usually in large back gardens or open areas used, for example, as vegetable plots or for vehicle parking. It is not normally acceptable where it involves the loss of significant trees, the loss of an open area which contributes to the general amenity of an area, or where it adjoins and / or adversely affects the appearance of the countryside.
4.51 Tandem development consisting of one house behind the other and sharing the same access, cannot normally achieve satisfactory standards of design, privacy and access.
   
 
POLICY H14 - Accessible Housing
  PROVISION WILL BE SOUGHT, ON THE BASIS OF AN ASSESSMENT OF LOCAL NEED, FOR THE BUILDING IN NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS OF A PROPORTION OF DWELLINGS ADAPTED TO MEET THE NEEDS OF WHEELCHAIR USERS.
     
4.52 All new dwellings with ground floor accommodation or accessed by lift should allow for easy use and visiting by most people with disabilities. Conversions and alterations should also allow for this where possible. This will also benefit many less mobile people (most wheelchair users do not need them at all times) and will make life easier, for example, for accommodating prams and moving furniture.
4.53 A proportion of houses on larger new development sites, should be specifically designed to be capable, without further structural alteration, of adaptation to enable full wheelchair accessibility. These units should normally be evenly distributed throughout the development.
4.54 The proportion to be sought will be based on an assessment of local needs, undertaken by or for the Council as housing authority, and an assessment of site suitability, particularly in respect of topography and access to local services.
 
EXISTING RESIDENTIAL AREAS
   
 
POLICY H15 - The Amenity of Residential Areas
  PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT, ENLARGEMENT OR MATERIAL INTENSIFICATION OF NON-RESIDENTIAL USES WHICH WOULD UNACCEPTABLY CONFLICT WITH THE AMENITIES OF SURROUNDING AREAS HAVING A PREDOMINANTLY RESIDENTIAL CHARACTER OR WITH THE QUIET ENJOYMENT OF DWELLINGS AND GARDENS IN PARTICULAR.
     
4.55 The Council seeks to protect areas having a predominantly residential character against the undesirable effects of non-residential uses located within or near them. This protection extends to committed and proposed housing sites (Proposal H5).
   
 
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4.56 Within these areas, it is highly desirable that residents should not be subject to disturbance and annoyance as a result of non-residential noise, dust, smell and other forms of air pollution, and traffic and parking. Residents should also be able to expect a safe, secure and attractive residential environment.
4.57 Although non-residential uses are present in or adjacent to many of the older areas and in some instances cause disturbance and annoyance to residents, they are generally well established, and cannot be easily moved. Many fulfil an important employment and service function.
4.58 The Plan's employment policies and proposals set out the locations and circumstances in which employment development is acceptable and would be encouraged. They also seek to stem the loss of employment uses, some of which may be in residential areas (Policy EP15).
4.59 New non-residential uses or developments which provide local amenities, such as a small local shop (Policy S16), or the development of a local community facility (Policy R27), may be permitted where the residential amenity of immediate neighbours would not be impaired.
   
 
POLICY H16 - The Improvement of Older Residential Areas
  IN CONSIDERING APPLICATIONS FOR PLANNING PERMISSION, THE COUNCIL WILL ENCOURAGE DEVELOPMENT WHICH SECURES IMPROVEMENTS IN THE ENVIRONMENT AROUND OLDER RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES, AND WILL ITSELF PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT SCHEMES IN AREAS SUFFERING FROM SOCIAL DEPRIVATION OR BADLY DEGRADED SURROUNDINGS. A PRIORITY ENVIRONMENT IMPROVEMENT AREA TO THE NORTH OF THE TOWN CENTRE IS DEFINED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP. FURTHER SUCH AREAS WILL BE IDENTIFIED WHERE JUSTIFIED BY LOCAL CONDITIONS.
     
4.60 The Council, as housing authority and local planning authority will promote environmental improvements in housing areas through area programmes, the renovation of its own housing stock, and through local environmental improvement schemes in areas of social deprivation or where the residential environment has otherwise been badly degraded.
4.61 A housing environment improvement area has been identified in the area north of the town centre, between Northgate and Greenbank Road. This includes three areas where there are already heavy concentrations of houses in multiple occupation, at Greenbank Road (South), Corporation Road and Station Road / Westbrook Villas (Policy H17).
4.62 When considering planning applications in such areas, the Council will have regard to the need to improve the residential environment. The Council will also investigate environmental improvement schemes for locations where there are specific problems, and pursue improvements to the highway environment and traffic management schemes (Policy T10).
   
 
POLICY H17 - Concentrations of Houses in Multiple Occupation
  THE SUB-DIVISION OF DWELLINGS INTO SMALLER UNITS OF ACCOMMODATION WILL NOT BE PERMITTED WHERE:
  1. IT IS WITHIN AREAS WHERE THERE IS ALREADY A HIGH CONCENTRATION OF HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPANCY, INCLUDING GREENBANK ROAD (SOUTH), CORPORATION ROAD AND STATION ROAD / WESTBROOK VILLAS; OR
  2. IT INVOLVES THE SUB-DIVISION OF SMALL TWO-STOREY FAMILY HOUSES.
   
 
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POLICY H18 - Houses in Multiple Occupation in Other Areas
  THE SUBDIVISION INTO SMALL DWELLINGS OF LARGE DWELLINGS, DWELLINGS UNSUITABLE FOR SINGLE FAMILY OCCUPATION, OR NON-RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS IN RESIDENTIAL SURROUNDINGS OTHER THAN THOSE THE SUBJECT OF POLICY H17, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED WHERE THIS WILL HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON:
  1. THE QUIET AND PRIVATE ENJOYMENT OF OTHER DWELLINGS AND GARDENS;
  2. THE ADEQUACY OF AVAILABLE OFF STREET PARKING AND AMENITY SPACES;
  3. THE FREE AND SAFE FLOW OF TRAFFIC; AND
  4. THE VISUAL AND NOISE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SURROUNDINGS.
   
4.63 A significant proportion of the Borough's stock of larger Victorian and Edwardian housing stock (i.e. with a floor area of 115m2 or more) is sub-divided into flats and bedsitters, which make a significant contribution towards meeting the housing needs of smaller households, particularly young single people. This situation has developed incrementally over many years.
4.64 In some areas there has been a cumulative adverse effect on residential amenity as a result of, for example, the conflict between the lifestyles of existing families and the occupants of the sub-divided dwellings, the parking and movement of motor vehicles, the loss of garden areas and trees, and the disfigurement of buildings through the construction of balconies and fire-escapes.
4.65 Areas of high concentration are, typically, continuous residential frontages or streets where upwards of a quarter of the original dwellings are in multiple occupation. This situation already exists in parts of the housing environment improvement area identified in Policy H16.
4.66 Further conversions will not normally be permitted in these areas, except in one or more of the following circumstances:
  i) where the proposal involves the conversion to self-contained dwellings of a property used for accommodation units sharing amenities and registered with the Council; or
  ii) where the property is terraced and already bounded on both sides by properties in multiple occupation and registered with the Council or in non-residential use; or
  iii) where the property is in mixed residential and non-residential use.
   
4.67 Proposals should not involve undue loss of amenity for neighbouring occupiers or the surrounding area. Wherever possible, they should have regard to people with disabilities (Policy H14).
4.68 Adequate provision for parking should normally be made on site in accordance with the parking standards for dwellings (Policy T24).
4.69 Smaller dwellings (those with a floor area of under 115m2) are considered to be normally only suitable for single family occupation, and sub-division will not normally be permitted.
4.70 Recognising that many existing houses in multiple occupation do not meet the criteria in this policy, the Council has adopted a corporate enforcement policy which reconciles the housing needs of the occupants with its planning enforcement function.
4.71 A Borough-wide registration scheme, under the provisions of the Housing Act 1985, has been in operation since February 1992. This is concerned primarily with matters relating to standards of fitness / occupancy, and standards of management. For properties registered at that time, planning enforcement action is only carried out where complaints are received. For those properties registered since that date planning applications are sought and joint investigation and, where appropriate, enforcement action is carried out in relation to both planning and housing legislation.
   
 
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SPECIALIST HOUSING
   
 
POLICY H19 - Special Care Accommodation
  HOSTELS AND HOMES PROVIDING GROUP ACCOMMODATION FOR PEOPLE IN NEED OF CARE WILL NORMALLY ONLY BE PERMITTED IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO PUBLIC TRANSPORT, SHOPPING AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES, AND WHERE A SATISFACTORY RESIDENTIAL ENVIRONMENT CAN ALSO BE ACHIEVED.
     
4.72 Such people include the elderly, blind, single homeless, mentally ill or handicapped, and women with dependants seeking refuge, who require accommodation with facilities for the provision of care and which is designed and located to meet their special needs.
4.73 Location in close proximity to services is generally desirable to help enable people affected by problems of ageing, mental illness, mental handicap or physical and sensory disability to live as independently as possible in homely settings in the community.
   
 
PROPOSAL H20 - Gypsy Sites
  THE COUNCIL WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE PROVISION FOR GYPSIES AT HONEYPOT LANE AND NEASHAM ROAD.
   
 
POLICY H21 - Additional Gypsy Sites
  PRIVATE SITES FOR SETTLED OCCUPATION BY GYPSIES WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
  1. THE SITE DOES NOT ENCROACH ON OPEN COUNTRYSIDE;
  2. THE SITE IS NOT IN THE AREA OF HIGH LANDSCAPE VALUE;
  3. THE SITE IS NOT PROMINENT AND THE OCCUPIED PART OF THE DEVELOPMENT CAN BE ADEQUATELY SCREENED BY ESTABLISHING NEW, OR RE-MODELLING EXISTING, PLANTING AND EARTH MOUNDING;
  4. THE DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT RESULT IN DISTURBANCE AFFECTING THE OCCUPIERS OF EXISTING LAND OR BUILDINGS;
  5. THE SITE HAS CONVENIENT ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND LOCAL SERVICES SUCH AS SHOPS, HOSPITALS AND MEDICAL FACILITIES;
  6. THE DEVELOPMENT INCORPORATES ADEQUATE ARRANGEMENTS FOR ACCESS TO AND FROM ADJOINING HIGHWAYS, FOR THE PARKING AND MANOEUVRING OF VEHICLES, FOR OUTDOOR AMENITY AREAS AND STORAGE, AND FOR THE SECURITY OF THE SITE DURING PERIODS WHEN IT IS UNOCCUPIED;
  7. THE DEVELOPMENT CAN BE PROVIDED WITH ADEQUATE UTILITY SERVICES; AND
  8. THE DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT ANY BUILDINGS OR AREAS OF AGRICULTURAL LAND QUALITY, ARCHITECTURAL, HISTORIC OR SCIENTIFIC IMPORTANCE.
   
4.74 The existing facilities at Honeypot Lane are temporary in nature and may need to be relocated to accommodate the Cross Town Route. An area of land suitable for the provision of permanent and more extensive facilities is identified on the Proposals Map.
4.75 An allocation also covers the existing facilities at Neasham Road, which are relatively permanent in nature. The site is considered to be suitable for extension if the need arises.
   
 
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4.76 The Secretary of State has identified the former County Durham as an area where sufficient gypsy sites already exist.
4.77 The Council does not consider that there is a quantitative need for additional sites in view of the level of provision at the existing sites and the ability to expand them.
4.78 Policy H21 identifies the principal locational criteria which will be applied in the consideration of planning applications for the development of further sites. It allows for the development of privately owned sites.