York’s Local Plan – Inspectors comments

Government inspectors have written to the York Council highlighting issues with the methodology used to establish the detail of the York Green Belt boundary.

They have however confirmed the general boundaries to be those defined in long standing regional strategies

The main issue – the number of additional homes required in the area – still remains open to criticism. Population growth estimates have gradually reduced in recent years although the Councils plan still seeks to allocate sites for 20,000 additional homes. The impact of the coronavirus scare is expected to further reduce house building demands in the City.

The examination itself has been held up during lock-down and it remains very unclear when, or even if, it will recommence.

The letter, which has been published by City of York Council today, follows examination hearings on several key aspects of the plan, including the duty to co-operate, housing numbers and the spatial strategy and Green Belt issues. The letter invites a response from the Council on aspects of the approach it has taken to define York’s Green Belt boundaries.

The Council says “it has already begun this work and has formally responded to the planning inspectors to thank them for their work so far. To progress the Local Plan, City of York will continue to work with the planning inspectors to justify the approach taken to define York’s greenbelt boundaries”.

“The proposed plan looks to deliver over 20,000 homes over the next 20 years, including up to 4000 more affordable homes, and prioritises development on brownfield sites.  The plan will also create around 650 new jobs per year, whilst crucially defining the greenbelt boundaries in planning law for the first time since the 1950s”.

The draft Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State on 25 May 2018. Since submission, there has been ongoing correspondence between the Council and the Inspectors.

Phased hearing sessions started in December 2019.  This phase focused on legal compliance and in-principle matters relating to York’s housing requirement, spatial distribution and approach to Green Belt.

The full letter can be viewed at www.york.gov.uk/localplan

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