Public consultation papers on controversial development plans will include housing numbers after Liberal Democrat councillors forced a dramatic U-Turn tonight.
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.”
The CSMC meeting agreed that the Labour Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, Planning & Sustainability (Cllr Dave Merrett) would instruct officers to include housing numbers in the consultation papers. The consultation is due to start later this month.
Liberal Democrat councillors Nigel Ayre (Heworth Without), Ann Reid (Dringhouses & Woodthrope) and Carol Runciman (Huntington & New Earswick) called-in the Labour Cabinet’s decision for the following reasons:
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.