The final York Council meeting last week approved a Tory motion covering the vexed question of how much land should be reserved for house building over the next 20 years.
There have been many different house building predictions floated over the last four years.
The final decision of the Liberal Democrat led Council was to approve a Council Plan allocating space for 575 additional homes a year. These would all have been built on sites which either already had planning permission or on “brownfield” previously developed sites. The plan assumed that 10% of sites would be “windfalls” – sites like the former Press building which unexpectedly became available for residential development.
That Plan was later jettisoned by a new Labour administration that by 2012 had come up with a figure of between 1200 and 1400 homes per year. This was far beyond the natural growth of the City (homes for existing York residents) with 80% of the 40,000 new homes likely to be occupied by inward migrants.
Most of the homes were to have been built on Green Belt land.
It led to a public outcry with residents launching an “Our City, not Big City” campaign.
Eventually in October 2014 the Labour Leadership was forced to resign and their Draft Local Plan numbers were abandoned.
However the new Council to be elected on May 7th will need to adopt a new Local Plan. With the latest ONS figures painting a very different picture of housing need in the City, the Conservatives were right to say that much lower house building numbers were now justified.
However their web site paints a confused picture.
On it they talk about a need to build 830 additional homes per year. That amounts to 16,600 additional houses during the next 20 years, and means the City would expand in size by 21% by 2035. Over 50% of the new homes would be likely to be occupied by inward migrants.
It appears that some Councillors have misunderstood the latest ONS population projections.
The latest figures say that York would have a natural population growth of 19,000 people between 2014 and 2030. This generates a demand for 540 extra homes each year.
Anything above that figure caters for (in many peoples view unsustainable) economic growth
So it looks like the Tories are now also planning a “Big City” growth plan. Inevitably this would mean building on large parts of the Green Belt.
NB Over 50% of new planning permissions are currently being given for “windfall sites” All are “brownfield”
On average, over the last three years, 382 new homes per year have been built in York