“Save the green belt” – Labour’s punitive plan to up City size by 25% now goes to public consultation

Predictably the York Councils Labour Cabinet has tonight agreed to put their appalling “Local Plan” out for public consultation.

Proposals map - click to enlarge

Proposals map – click to enlarge

Residents will have a minimal 6 weeks to put forward their views.

The saving grace may well be a Public Inquiry which must take place before any plan can be adopted. It is scheduled to start in 2014.

The next local elections take place in 2015 and a new council would have the opportunity to ditch at least some of the more extreme aspects of the Labour Plans.

The Council has a poor record on public consultation. The Local Plan is so important for the City that each and every household should be given information and the opportunity to influence the final document.

We doubt this will happen.

However Liberal Democrats will be out and about campaigning against the proposals.

The war has only just started.

“Get the Qualcast out Mavis”

Under the screen of a ludicrous “Smarter York” title, the York Council intends to reduce the grass cutting frequencies, on public amenity areas and verges, to a minimum.

Grass cutting

Depending on the weather, this could mean a reduction from the 14 cuts a year, established by the Council when it was under LibDem control in 2003, to 10 cuts or even less.

Incredibly, a report accepted by the Cabinet Member of Environmental Services (Cllr Leven), says that local residents are going to be asked to take on the maintenance of some local amenity areas.

While no one wants to see grass cut unnecessarily, the pursuit of a £34,000 a year saving in costs seems likely to lead to yet another disproportionate deterioration in the sub-urban landscape.

The decision is likely to prove to be an insurmountable hurdle for the “Britain in Bloom” aspirations of the City.

Perhaps not surprisingly the decision to reduce grass cutting frequencies was taken in a private meeting behind closed doors.

There was no public consultation

Protect the Green Belt campaign gains support as opposition Councillors gagged

Foxwood Lane green field

Residents have two options if they want to show their support for the existing green belt boundaries in the City. The current boundaries are set to be torn up later today when Labour’s “Cabinet” meets to rubber stamp proposals which would see the City enlarged by 25%.

A petition organised by the York Liberal Democrats, supporting the existing green belt boundaries, can be signed by clicking here.

A similar petition is also registered on the Council’s web site and can be accessed by clicking here

Tonight’s meeting (being held in “The Snow Room” – Ground Floor, West Offices, Station Rise, York at 5:30pm) is already shrouded in controversy with several opposition Councillors having apparently been told that they will be prevented from making representations to the meeting.

NB In February 2011 the York Council agreed a Local Plan. The green belt boundaries were subsequently confirmed in the final version which was submitted to central government in the summer of 2011. The plan identified where around 800 new homes could be constructed each year.

The latest Plan, published in April 2013, shows several developments in what has always been regarded as green belt land around the City.

These include new towns at Holme Hill (aka “New Alexandria”) and Clifton Moor together with the development of land which has hitherto been classified as important to preserve the rural setting and outlook of the City.

The plan involves building around 1100 homes each year (compared with current building rates of 300). The latest census figures confirm that the City population, during the height of the economic boom, grew by only around 1% a year.

Objectors are opposing the proposal to increase the size of the City by 22,000 homes over the next 15 years pointing out that, if built, most would be occupied by inward migration.

The Council, have admitted that their growth proposals are likely to see an increase in traffic congestion of around 2.5% pa. Draconian steps to limit car use in and around the City have already been announced.

Existing house values are set to reduce by at least 10% leaving some residents with “negative equity”

Objectors are asking the Council to produce a revised plan which respects the setting, scale and heritage of our City.