The City of Durham Neighbourhood Plan has been approved, with an 85% vote in favour. The voting figures were:

Do you want Durham County Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for
Durham City to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?
Votes RecordedPercentage
Number cast in favour of YES430685.6%
Number cast in favour of NO4949.8%

The number of ballot papers rejected was as follows:

Reason for rejectionNumber of ballot papers
(A) Want of an official mark0
(B) Voting for more Candidates than voter was entitled to11
(C) Writing or mark by which voter could be identified1
(D) Being unmarked or wholly void for uncertainty218
(E) Rejected in part0

Electorate: 13077, Ballot Papers Issued: 5030, Turnout: 38.46%

The Neighbourhood Plan contains policies to be used in deciding on development proposals that affect the City. Following the YES vote in the referendum, it will apply local detail to the policies of the recently-adopted County Plan. Consequently the City of Durham Parish will be shaped by planning policies formed by local people with deep understanding of local issues.

The Neighbourhood Plan was written by volunteers (local people who live or work in the City) using the views of people in the City obtained via a number of consultation activities from meetings to questionnaires. The Plan aims to help enhance and protect the heritage of the City, and it is in part a response to a sense of public unease about some recent developments in Durham. The Neighbourhood Plan is now the responsibility of the City of Durham Parish Council.

The Plan has been examined by an Independent Examiner who judged it accorded with the Basic Conditions (the legal requirements) once his amendments had been made.

The Plan comprises 7 themes and 26 policies. Click any of the blue cross-headings to go to the relevant part of the Neighbourhood Plan itself.


Durham City will have developments that meet and balance current needs without limiting or compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. All new development will contribute to a long-term sustainable future for Durham City by ensuring a balanced relationship among environmental, social and economic outcomes.

Policy S1: Sustainable Development Requirements

All development proposals for development and re-development sites, including all new building, renovations and extensions should: promote economic well-being; conserve, preserve and enhance our Neighbourhood; use resources responsibly and increase resilience to climate change; secure equity and benefit to the local community.

Policy S2: The Requirement for Masterplans or Other Design and Development Frameworks

These comprise illustrated design requirements for large sites, produced before the planing application is considered, which provide specific, detailed criteria for the physical development of the site.


Durham City’s local heritage will be conserved and enhanced for the cultural benefit and health and well-being of present and future generations.

Policy H1: Protection and Enhancement of the World Heritage Site

Development proposals within the Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site, and its setting including views, should sustain, conserve, and enhance its Outstanding Universal Value and support the current adopted management plan.

Policy H2: The Conservation Areas

Development proposals within or affecting the setting of the Durham City Conservation Area should sustain and enhance its significance by meeting requirements covering: historical and architectural qualities and street patterns; avoiding demolition, loss or harm to assets, using appropriate scale, density, massing, form, layout, landscaping, open spaces, materials, detailing and lighting.

Policy H3: Our Neighbourhood Outside the Conservation Areas

Development proposals should demonstrate an understanding of the area of the proposed development and meet requirements for: using high quality design; avoidance of loss of significant open space and public realm; having appropriate scale, density, massing, form, layout, landscaping and open spaces, materials and finishes.


Durham City’s natural green spaces and networks of greenery will be protected and enhanced for the leisure, health, economic and environmental benefits they provide for residents, visitors and people working in the City.

Policy G1: Protecting and Enhancing Green and Blue Infrastructure

Development proposals are required to: avoid the loss of significant green or blue assets and encouraged to provide additional assets; protect and enhance public rights of way and other footpaths, green corridors, the banks of the River Wear; enhance biodiversity; protect geological features and dark corridors.

Policy G2: Designation of Local Green Spaces

In the following areas inappropriate development should not be approved except in very special circumstances:

  1. The River Wear corridor in the areas of the Peninsular Woodlands, the Racecourse and the Sands
  2. Observatory Hill
  3. Bow Cemetery
  4. Clay Lane
  5. Flass Vale and North End allotments
  6. St Margaret’s Cemetery and allotments
  7. Durham Light Infantry (DLI) grounds
  8. Maiden Castle Wood, Great High Wood, Hollinside Wood, and Blaid’s Wood
  9. Neville’s Cross Battlefield

Policy G3: Creation of the Emerald Network

An Emerald Network is identified comprising sites of wildlife interest within Our Neighbourhood linked by public rights of way or pavements.

Policy G4: Enhancing the Beneficial Use of the Green Belt

For the Sidegate and Frankland Lane area and land to the west of the A167, proposals for the purpose of improving access (particularly for people with disabilities), green corridors, landscape, or biodiversity, or for enhancing visual amenity, will be encouraged and supported where such proposals sustain, conserve and and enhance the inner and outer bowl settings of the World Heritage Site, and the Durham City Conservation Area, and do not cause significant harm to the overall quality of the Green Belt.


Durham City will have a sustainable and vibrant local economy supporting a wide range of employment in large and small businesses in all sectors including retail and tourism.

Policy E1: The Aykley Heads Business Park

Only development proposals for offices and research and development activities are suitable for land on the non-Green Belt part of Aykley Heads.

Policy E2: Other Employment Sites

Support will be given to the development of Fowler’s Yard (Durham’s Arts Quarter) for craft and creative activities, and to the development of windfall brownfield sites for mixed use office and business enterprises and residential.

Policy E3: Retail Development

Support will be given to development proposals that contribute to the creation of a lively and vibrant City Centre and enhance its character and attractiveness.

Policy E4: Evening Economy

Support will be given to development proposals that contribute to the vitality and viability of the City Centre and add to, and improve, the cultural and diversity offer, as long as they have no significant adverse effect upon local amenity, including the amenity of local residents.

Policy E5: Visitor Attractions

Development proposals for existing and extended or refurbished visitor attractions will be supported where the visitor experience is enhanced. Development proposals for new visitor attractions will be supported where a significant positive contribution to the quality of the City’s environment is made. The special characteristics of the World Heritage Site and existing visitor attractions should be sustained and conserved.

Policy E6: Visitor accommodation

Development proposals for new, extended or refurbished visitor accommodation will be supported where it improves the range and quality available, does not have an unacceptable adverse impact on the natural or historic environment and does not become a permanent residence.


Durham City will have a range of housing types to meet the needs of a sustainable mix of local residents and students living in harmony.

Policy D1: Land for Residential Development

Proposals for housing development on Main Street USA (at the top of Sidegate) and 24 a, b and c The Avenue will be supported, as will conversion of existing buildings for residential use.

Student Accommodation

This is a major issue for Durham City. Neighbourhood Plan volunteers and a wide range of community and residential groups and organisations, including the Parish Council, made suggestions, lobbied and argued for a robust student accommodation policy. There is now such a policy in the Durham Local Plan which covers the whole of the County including the City, as the issue was deemed by the Examiner to be strategic and relevant to the wider community.

Policy D2: Housing for Older People and People with Disabilities

10% of private and intermediate housing on sites where 10 or more homes will be provided, or the site has an area of 0.5 hectares or more, should be of types and design appropriate for older people. Housing schemes that are solely for older people are encouraged and will be supported, and should be suitably located and accessible. Extensions to residential properties that enable a resident to continue to live there rather than go into a nursing or residential care home will be permitted.

Policy D3: Affordable Housing

Any scheme for new residential development, or for conversions of existing sites, on sites where 10 or more homes will be provided, or the site has an area of 0.5 hectares or more, will be required to include 25% as affordable housing.

Policy D4: Building Housing to the Highest Standards

Developments should be of high quality design relating to: the local area, aesthetics, form and layout, functionality, adaptability, resilience and energy efficiency. They should meet Durham County’s Building for Life 12 standards.


Durham City will have sustainable transport access to economic, educational, training, cultural and social opportunities for all, thereby enabling a swifter transition to a healthier environment and a low-carbon future.

Policy T1: Sustainable transport accessibility and design

Development proposals should contribute to transport accessibility, giving the highest priority to walking, then cycling and public transport, and should meet the travel needs of people with mobility impairments. Adverse transport impacts should be avoided where practicable. Streets in developments should be designed for permeability of sustainable transport, the minimisation of car traffic, and encourage a safe and family-friendly environment.

Policy T2: Residential Car Parking

Development proposals incorporating or having an impact on car parking should be designed to minimise additional vehicle movements on residential streets, be attractively landscaped, and ensure the safety and convenience of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Car club spaces are encouraged. Where developments require new or amended parking controls, these can be funded through developer contributions.

Policy T3: Residential Storage for Cycles and Mobility Aids

Residential development proposals should provide storage facilities for cycles and, where appropriate, mobility aids meeting required standards, and having a design and location that accords with the style and context of the development.


Durham City will have a proactively supported community life, including health and well-being, with an enriched artistic and cultural life for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. Residents will be supported and encouraged to be active citizens with a keen interest in their neighbourhood and how it develops.

Policy C1: Provision for Arts and Culture

Development proposals for public art and for arts and cultural facilities should demonstrate that they enhance the area, improve the range of facilities in the City, but are not harmful to overall viability or detrimental to the area's amenity, are of flexible design and accessible, and provide unloading/ loading space. Extensions and conversions should complement the existing building and retain features of intrinsic interest to the original building.

Policy C2: Provision of New Community Facilities

Development proposals for community facilities should demonstrate that they are well related to residential areas or local facilities, of flexible design and accessible, do not not adversely affect the amenity of occupiers of nearby or adjoining land or property, and provide unloading/ loading space. Extensions and conversions should complement the existing building and retain features of intrinsic interest.

Policy C3: Protection of an Existing Community Facility

Development proposals which would result in the loss of a valued community facility for which there is demonstrable demand should make equivalent alternative provision.

Policy C4: Health Care and Social Care Facilities

Development proposals for the provision of Health Centres, Surgeries, Clinics, Nursing Homes and Residential Care Homes should demonstrate that they are well related to residential areas, accessible by a range of transport means including public transport, do not not adversely affect the amenity of occupiers of nearby or adjoining land or property; amenity of occupiers of adjoining and nearby properties and businesses, are accessible and provide car parking facilities on the premises. Nursing Homes and Residential Care Homes should be well related to facilities and provide good standards of amenity and open space for the residents.


Policies in a Neighbourhood Plan cannot cover issues that are the responsibility of other organisations with a wider remit, for example the Highways Authority, and must be in general conformity with the strategic policies in the Durham Local Plan which covers the whole county. The Plan has to meet certain legal requirements - the Basic Conditions.

This summary has been produced by an adhoc grouping of local residents for the purpose of explaining the contents of the Plan and promoting its benefit to the City. Under electoral regulations the City of Durham Parish Council was not allowed to promote the Neighbourhood Plan and this website is not being published on behalf of the Parish Council. Please share this website with your friends and neighbours.


Published and promoted by Roger Cornwell on behalf of the Friends of the City of Durham Neighbourhood Plan c/o 40 The Avenue, Durham DH1 4EB