Liberal Democrats force housing U-Turn in York

Public consultation papers on controversial development plans will include housing numbers after Liberal Democrat councillors forced a dramatic U-Turn tonight.

Green Belt campaign logo Labour run York Council’s ‘Draft Local Plan’ outlines proposals to build 22,000 houses on sites across York. Last month the Labour Cabinet approved a report for public consultation which earmarked further sites and recommended boundary changes on some sites identified last year.

However, the consultation papers excluded housing numbers for the new and amended sites. Liberal Democrat councillors Nigel Ayre, Ann Reid and Carol Runciman ‘called-in’ the decision for further review and at tonight’s CSMC (Corporate and Scrutiny Management Committee) meeting the cross-party committee voted to include the housing numbers.

Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Planning, said at the meeting:

“The principle of consultation should be that residents are given as much information as possible about the proposals being put forward. We believe that housing numbers are central to this consultation and should be published. Whether one of these sites is for 20 or 200 houses will make a huge difference to how residents view it.”

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Reid commented:

“I am pleased that common sense has prevailed and residents will now be able to see the housing numbers proposed for each site. The Labour Cabinet should never have tried to hide the housing numbers from residents in the first place. Labour’s argument that including the numbers ties the hands of developers was nonsense, especially as housing numbers were published for sites in last year’s consultation.”


Plans for new town “wholly inappropriate” say housebuilders

Plans for a new settlement south of York have received a major blow after housebuilders and planning experts said the scheme was “wholly inappropriate” and the location was “unsustainable”.

The ‘Whinthorpe’ development is planned for Green Belt land at Holme Hill, alongside the A64 to the south of Heslington. The original proposals had space for 5,500 houses – making the planned settlement bigger than Easingwold or Dunnington. However, housebuilders such as the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust and Linden Homes along with expert planning consultants have criticised the proposals in consultation papers recently published by Labour run York Council.

The consultation responses include:

  • Consultants for the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust said “We consider that the site is wholly inappropriate for development in landscape and green belt terms. Indeed, in our view, it is impossible to identify a site or area in the countryside surrounding York where development would have a worse impact on the character or setting of the historic city”.
  • The same consultants raised concerns over the lack of local infrastructure and said that pressure on schools meant there was the danger that “small children will need to be decanted to distant schools”.
  • ID Planning said the site was in “an unsustainable location” and could become a commuter town for Leeds which “would not be assisting in the economic growth of the city (York)”. They said there was “no evidence this site has been tested or is viable” and that public transport options were “unknown”.
  • Henry Boot Developments said “the assumed build out rates are simply too high and are unsustainable/undeliverable”.


York University set to expand

Key planning decision expected this week

The Council s planning committee will be asked to approve this week plans which would see a big increase in the number of jobs on the University of York campus at Heslington.

One application would see the existing Vanbrugh College (Block D) replaced with a 4 storey research, office and teaching block for the Environment Department. The University says the development will create an additional 66 full time jobs.

Some concerns have been expressed about the loss of student accommodation although a new residential block is due to be opened later in the year. The application is recommended for approval.

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The Planning committee will also consider the details of the three storey  education, social and catering building (Piazza Learning Centre) which will be located between Field Lane/A64 and the Hull Road.

The proposals would provide teaching accommodation (including a 350-seat lecture theatre), library, study areas, 200-seat restaurant and social space. The building footprint would be 2450sqm and total floor space would be 6238sqm

The meeting on Thursday will also consider plans to establish a petrol filling station, restaurant and 50 bed hotel near the Hopgrove Roundabout. The application – which is in the Green Belt – is recommended for refusal by officials