Planning committees will restart next week to determine some of County Durham’s more significant applications.

It’ll be the first planning committee held since 18 March, after anti-social engineering measures were enforced by the government.

Meetings still can’t resume in person, but applications will be determined remotely in a bid to boost the county’s economy moving forward.

The virtual meetings will decide the outcome of major developments and applications.

Meanwhile, an increased range of delegated powers have been given to planning officers to clear a backlog of applications brought about by the lockdown.

In order to ensure those decisions are fair, they will be made in consultation with local councillors, with final decisions taken at director level.

Last year, the council determined 3,375 applications, with almost 97% decided by officers.

Cllr Carl Marshal said: “There is no doubt that the coronavirus has caused major disruption to businesses and communities across the county, and we hope that ensuring the planning process is fully operational gives a much-needed boost to developers going forward.

“The planning system unlocks investment and development by enabling businesses to grow, new housing to develop and increasing jobs and productivity, which will help with our vision of creating more and better jobs across County Durham. In the interest of a speedy economic recovery, it is important that these decisions are made in a fair and timely manner, which they will be under these new plans, whilst still allowing for residents across the county to get involved in the process.”

The first remote planning committee will meet 16 June.

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