Liberal Democrat councillors say that public consultation on controversial housing plans should be delayed until residents are given the full facts.
Last year Labour run York Council published its ‘Draft Local Plan’ which outlined proposals to build 22,000 houses on sites across York, including 16,000 in the Green Belt. Last week the Labour Cabinet approved a report for public consultation which earmarked further sites and recommended boundary changes on sites identified last year.
However, the public consultation papers do not include housing numbers either for the new sites or amended housing numbers for the revised sites. Consultation papers last year included housing numbers. Controversially, many of the new sites are on Green Belt land.
The Council have also failed to update their plan numbers to take into account over 1000 homes, which have been granted planning permission for housing during the last year, and which are on sites which were not included when the Draft Local Plan was published 12 months ago.
The issue will now be re-examined at a cross-party scrutiny meeting on Monday 12th May.
Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Planning, commented:
“It would be inappropriate for public consultation to begin until residents are given the full facts. New sites have been identified, but the Labour council has refused to reveal how many houses it plans for these site. Meanwhile some of the sites recommended last year have increased in size, but again the council has refused to publish amended housing numbers. The council has also failed to reveal proper infrastructure plans for the new sites.
“All this means it is very difficult for residents to know the scale of housing and development that is planned for specific locations. Clearly, whether the plan is to build 20 or 2,000 houses on a site is going to make a substantial difference to what people think about it. At the moment Labour are asking people for their views on proposals without giving them the full details. Many residents will understandably wonder what Labour is trying to hide by doing this.
“Labour should amend the papers to include the housing numbers and infrastructure plans and then begin the public consultation.”
1. Liberal Democrat councillors Nigel Ayre (Heworth Without), Ann Reid (Dringhouses & Woodthrope) and Carol Runciman (Huntington & New Earswick) have called-in the Labour Cabinet’s decision. The reasons given are:
Call-In Item 3 – City of York Local Plan Further Sites Consultation
• The proposed public consultation documents exclude projected housing numbers for the new residential sites or revised housing numbers for either the amended allocated sites or the amended strategic sites.
• This exclusion is contrary to the Local Plan Preferred Options paper (June 2013) which included housing numbers; however, no proper explanation is offered as to why this approach has been abandoned.
• Housing numbers are not provided for potentially large sites such as Stockton Lane, Boroughbridge Road, North of Escrick or in New Earswick.
• It is not fully explained how the changes to strategic sites such as Metcalfe Lane, North of Haxby or Whinthorpe will affect proposed housing numbers on these sites.
• The papers fail to provide sufficient information on the infrastructure plans for the new sites or how the new sites will impact upon existing residents and on other proposed sites identified last year.
• Failure to include housing numbers and other key information is symptomatic of an approach where there is no opportunity for group leaders to agree the contents and structure of public consultations.
• The Further Sites consultation papers should include projected housing numbers and other key details so residents have all the information they need to respond.
• Until all key information is published and included in the papers it is inappropriate for consultation to begin.
2. Last year nearly 3,000 residents signed a Liberal Democrat petition against building on York’s Green Belt.