Further fall in Jobseekers claimant count


The number of people claiming Jobs Seekers Allowance (JSA) in York has again fallen, representing the largest decrease in the claimant count in seven years between June and July.

The Office for National Statistics have released figures today stating that there are 2490 claimants in York, a decrease of 61 from last month and of 758 from July 2012. The claimant count represents 1.9% of the working population and contrasts to the regional average which stands at 4.4%. The figures are also much lower than the national average which stands at 3.5%.

Generally full employment is achieved when unemployment levels fall below 2%. This recognises the number of people who at any time are “between jobs”.

Even allowing for workers who are currently economically inactive (but not claiming JSA), it raises further questions about Labours Local Plan which aims to increase the number of job by 1000 a year (net).

The Local Plan hyper economic growth targets have been criticised as likely to lead to large scale inward migration into the City or unsustainable commuting levels.

Cost of Local Plan consultants report put at £9000

The York Council has said that the total cost of the work undertaken by Arup consultants to support the Local Plan Preferred options – Housing Requirements in York: Assessment of the Evidence on Housing

Requirements in York was £8,837 plus VAT

This is the report that the Council used in “Draft” form to justify its decision in April to seek land on which to build an additional 22,000 in York over the next 15 years.

Lib Dems back new campaign to ‘Save our Countryside’

Green Belt map of England

Green Belt map of England

York’s Liberal Democrat Council Group Leader says a new national campaign to protect the countryside supports the approach his party has taken to controversial housing plans.

Last week the Lib Dems submitted their objection to Labour run City of York Council’s Draft Local Plan, which proposes building 16,000 houses on Green Belt land over the next 15 years. In recent months the Lib Dems have been leading the fight to protect York’s Green Belt, including organising a petition signed by nearly 2,500 local residents. The party has said that new housing should be focused on brownfield sites before the countryside surrounding York is developed.

Now a national ‘Save our Countryside’ charter launched by the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) has highlighted the threat of developing Green Belt land and called on councils to develop brownfield sites first. The CPRE has said that current policies mean the countryside is “being destroyed unnecessarily” and a ‘brownfield first’ approach should be adopted.


Gypsy and Traveller correspondence disclosed by York Council

Behind closed doors logo

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the York Council has now disclosed some of the correspondence that it has had with third parties before making a decision on the allocation of land for new Traveller sites.

The documents can be read by clicking the links below

Correspondence with other authorities

Population numbers

Numbers on waiting list

Unauthorised encampments

Support work

Latest Planning applications Acomb and Westfield

Below is the latest planning application received by the York Council last week. Full details can be found by clicking the application reference


Ref No: 13/00494/FUL
Location: 134A Boroughbridge Road York YO26 6AL
Proposal: Erection of 2no. semi-detached dwellings and associated car parking to rear of 134A Boroughbridge Road
Applicant: K Pallister Contact: Neil Conway Consultation Expiry Date: 26 August 2013 Case Officer: Erik Matthews Expected Decision Level: DEL

Ref No: 13/02600/FUL
Location: 30 Chestnut Grove York YO26 5LE
Proposal: Single storey side and rear extension and porch to front (resubmission)
Applicant: Mr And Mrs Pope Contact: Mr Howard Berry Consultation Expiry Date: 26 August 2013Case Officer: Heather Fairy (Mon – Wed) Expected Decision DEL


Ref No: 13/02542/ADV
Location: Greggs 5 Odsal House Front Street York YO24 3BL
Proposal: Display of externally illuminated hanging sign
Applicant: Mrs Sara Humphries Consultation Expiry Date 26 August 2013 Case Officer: Carolyn Howarth Expected Decision Level DEL

Ref No: 13/02550/FUL
Location: 59 Gladstone Street Acomb York YO24 4NQ
Proposal: Single storey rear extension
Applicant: Mr Paul Crosby
Contact Mr J Funnell Consultation Expiry Date 26 August 2013 Case Officer: Sharon Jackson Expected Decision Level DEL

Ref No: 13/02558/FUL
Location: 59 Thoresby Road York YO24 3EN
Proposal: Two storey side extension and porch to front
Applicant: Mr Lee Nicholas Contact Mr Kevin Bristowe Consultation Expiry Date 26 August 2013 Case Officer: Heather Fairy (Mon – Wed) Expected Decision DEL

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site. http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received.

More brownfield sites for homes coming forward in York – Council Green Belt assumptions proved to be wrong

Brownfield sites for nearly 2000 additional homes have already been found since Labour launched its attack on the Green Belt in April.

Many alternatives to green field development were listed in the LibDem response to the Council’s Local Plan which was submitted last week.

Ashbank - will be converted into flats

Ashbank – will be converted into flats

Even more potential brownfield sites are now emerging with an application being considered on Thursday to provide 9 homes at the former Ashbank care home site on Shipton Road. The property is owned by the Council.

A further application will see 12 homes built on the site of the Yearsley Grove pub on Huntington Road

The same planning committee will consider a proposal to construct 37 new homes on the site of the Burnholme Club in Heworth. This was a site identified for housing in the Local Plan (Ref H17) but for only 19 homes.

Taken with other sites – like Our Lady’s – there seems to have been a systematic and cynical attempt by York Council leaders to deliberately underestimate the capacity of brownfield sites in the City.

In the latter two cases the actual planning proposals almost double the number of units allocated for the sites in the Local Plan.

No explanation has been forthcoming from the Council on these major anomalies.

York Council refuses to buy empty flats despite increase in homelessness

The York Council won’t use any of its government “New Homes Bonus” payments, housing reserves or developer planning levies to buy homes on the open market.

In total over £10 million is available to supplement rental stocks.

The disappointing announcement came at the last Council meeting when the Labour Councillor responsible for housing (Tracey Simpson-Laing) claimed that empty properties currently on the market in York “are poorly insulated”.

St Stephens Square £65,000 click for details

St Stephens Square £65,000 click for details

Instead the Council intends to spend around £7 million constructing new Council flats at sites like the former Beckfield Lane recycling centre. These properties are likely to cost around £170,000 each including the value of the building plot (which is already owned by the Council).

The decisions comes at a time when a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the housing waiting list – now amalgamated for the whole of North Yorkshire – has over 2800 applications SEEKING ONE BEDROOMED PROPERTIES.

This is more than half the total number on the list, which has now reached 4600. Many of these, though, have been added since the list was “opened up” and includes people from other parts of the country who want to move to York. It also, for the first time, includes many teenagers who had previously rented accommodation in the private sector, lived with relatives or in shared accommodation .

The only planning application so far made for the new Council houses (on Beckfield Lane) is for 6 two bedroomed and 3 one bedroomed flats. In additional the site will accommodate 6 two bedroomed homes as well as several “for sale” units. Approval of the planning application has been delayed.

Birch Copse £115,000 click for details

Birch Copse £115,000 click for details

Potentially the Council could purchase 70 empty flats on the open market for the £7 million. They would be available immediately to ease the demand for more rented property.

In turn this could free up the same number of larger properties (there are 354 existing Council tenants seeking a move to a smaller property).

And there are bargains around.

A modern two bedroomed terraced property in Birch Copse is advertised for £115,000.

A 2 bedroomed (former) Council flat in St Stephens Road is advertised for £65,000.

As a cash buyer the Council would be ideally placed to secure properties like this.

NB. The latest Council report on “homelessness” in the City concedes that the number of rough sleepers in the York has increased. The quarter 3 submission to government identified 8, an increase from the previous year of 2.

The number of households in temporary accommodation remains high despite a reduction in homeless acceptances and the opening of Howe Hill for Young People. The target for 2012/13 was 85. The final number in temporary accommodation as of 31/3/12 was 99

“A Fresh Approach” – The LibDem alternative to Labours Local Plan

York Central Liberal Democrats have published today the representations that they have made opposing Labours “high growth” plans for the City.

Labour propose to increase the size of York by 25% during the next 15 years. Up to 22,000 new homes are planned. The majority would be built on Green Belt land and would be occupied by inward migrants.

The Liberal Democrat alternative suggests that job growth, house building numbers and population plans must be clearly linked.

Between 600 and 800 additional homes would be built each year with growth in jobs directly linked to this figure and implemented at a pace which recognises the need to improve transport, education, and health facilities.

Local residents backing the "save the green belt" campaign

Local residents backing the “save the green belt” campaign

The LibDems say that around 6000 more homes could be built on brownfield sites and have identified many new potential locations which would avoid the need to build in the Green Belt. Many of these would be “windfall” opportunities of the type that have produced, on average, 350 new homes a year in the City over the last decade.

The Labour Council is accused of trying to impose a new town blueprint onto an historic City landscape.

The complete response can be read by clicking the following link http://tinyurl.com/Local-Plan-A-fresh-approach

All comments on the proposals have to be received by the Council TODAY (Wednesday 31st July).

They should be emailed to localplan@york.gov.uk

The sites which could be used for housing but which are excluded from Labour plans are listed as:


Latest Planning applications Acomb and Westfield Wards

Below is the latest planning application received by the York Council last week. Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

Ref No: 13/02524/TCA
Location: 19 The Green Acomb York YO26 5LL
Proposal: Fell Elm, Tree in the Conservation Area
Applicant: Miss Elizabeth Morrell Consultation Expiry Date: 20 August 2013 Case Officer: Esther Priestley Expected Decision Level: DEL

Ref No: 13/02062/LHE
Location: 108 Middleton Road York YO24 3AP
Proposal: Erection of single storey extension extending 4 metres beyond the rear wall of the original house, with a height to the eaves of 2.1 metres and a total height of 3.5 metres
Applicant: Mr And Mrs Hufton Contact Mr John Warrington Consultation Expiry Date 20 August 2013 Case Officer: Elizabeth Potter Expected Decision Level DEL

Ref No: 13/02253/FUL
Location: Olli Alterations 5A Acomb Court Front Street York YO24 3BJ
Proposal: Change of use from first floor of clothing alterations shop to flat (use class C3)
Applicant: Mr David Wong Consultation Expiry Date 20 August 2013 Case Officer: Victoria Bell Expected Decision Level DEL

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site. http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received.

“Save Acomb Moor” representations lodged with York Council

Campaigners, who are aiming to stop part of Acomb Moor being developed, have submitted their formal objection to the Councils draft Local Plan.

A full copy of the objection can be read here http://tinyurl.com/Save-Acomb-Moor-Issue-1

Residents have until tomorrow evening (Wednesday 31st July) to email their comments on the plan to localplan@york.gov.uk

The “Save Acomb Moor” objectors make several key points:

The transition from rural into an urban landscape
Vehicles leaving Askham Lane and turning into Foxwood Lane continue to have a rural perspective on one side of the road. The other side is softened by the “ravine”, which runs down the length of Forrester’s Walk, which is heavily planted.

The topography of the land
Even 2 storey houses would be immediately visible on the north side of Foxwood Lane to traffic because of the height of the development at its most western point.

View of Minster from Acomb Moor click to enlarge

View of Minster from Acomb Moor click to enlarge

The need to preserve the skyline of the City
Views of the City would be obstructed by houses built on Foxwood Lane opposite Foresters Walk
This is the ridge high point when viewed from Foxwood Lane (near Otterwood Lane north junction), Askham Lane and the A1237.
The issue would be acute in the winter when there is little tree and hedge cover.

The need to avoid dominance of nearby properties
There is a 5 metre rise on the site. Any buildings on the Foxwood Lane high point (opposite Foresters Walk) would dominate existing buildings and those built on the low part of the site. The shape of the site means that opportunities to preserve privacy through layout would be limited

The requirement for informal open space
While the field in question remains in private ownership, there is an established PROW across it. It is likely that continued use over the last 30 years has established a further PROW around the boundary. This would further limit development opportunities.
The area enjoys only limited access to semi rural grassland and the loss of even part of this field would further reduce recreational choice in the area.

Conservation of flora and fauna including the contribution made to the green wedges in the area
Council officials seem to have dismissed the ecological significance of the field in question without producing any evidence that the area has been studied. Similar grassland in the area has been found in the past to have sustained significant, sometimes unique, forms of flora.
The well established hedges provide cover for wildlife providing a link to Acomb Wood and beyond; following the green corridors which open up onto Hob Moor.
The area should be subject to a full ecological study

Drainage issues
While it is acknowledged that proper drainage would be a relevant issue to be considered when a detailed planning application was submitted, there are concerns about the low part of the field being waterlogged during the winter.
Local sewer capacity is inadequate to take additional surface water drainage and it is unclear how the run off for the hard surfacing associated with 40 homes, could be accommodated.
Householders to the east are concerned that such a development would lead to gardens being flooded on a regular basis. There appears to have been no economic assessment conducted on the costs of ameliorating such concerns.
Within the last 5 years the have been serious flooding issues affecting homes on the central section of Foxwood Lane caused by inadequate drainage.

The Council are likely to start debating the representations that have been made in the autumn.