Askham Bog planning application set to be refused

The Planning committee is being recommended to refuse planning permission for the erection of  516 houses on Moor Lane near Woodthorpe.

The application caused an outcry last year because of concerns about its effect on the nearby Askham Bog. A host of celebrity experts lined up to oppose the plan. They pointed to the disastrous effect that changes to the hydrology in the area could have on the Site of Scientific Interest.

The report describes the existing site.

The application site extends to approximately 40.5Ha of farmland to the South of Moor Lane in Woodthorpe approximately 3.5km from the city centre. The farmland is divided by mature hedges, trees, a number of farm tracks and field drains. Marsh Farm sits within the centre of the site and consists of a farm house with a mixture of period and modern barns”.

The site is shown as Green Belt in the latest York Local Plan. This plan will be subject to a public examination over the next few weeks.

The need to preserve the Gren Belt boundary in the area forms the basis for the likely refusal of the application. However, concerns are also expressed about traffic generation from the site as well as other issues

Objections to the application were raised By Natural England, Historic England and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (who manage the Bog site). A wide range of other organisations and local Councillors have objected to the proposal. There were also 401 individual letters of objections and 7210 emails!

The Planning Committee meets to determine the application on Thursday 11th July at 4:30pm.

If the application is refused, the developer has a right of appeal to the Secretary of State.

This might result In a Public Inquiry.

Poor research or something more sinister?

A few days ago, Labour issued a statement condemning the City of York Council for agreeing to sell off Bootham Park Hospital. Only problem was that the Council had never owned the hospital site. Decisions about its future rest with NHS property, a central government agency.

Labours 2014 plan to develop land on Moor Lane

Now Labour candidates in Dringhouses and Woodthorpe are trying to blame the local coalition for the proposal to build near to Askham Bog on Moor Lane.

It appears that the candidates – who in fairness appear to have little local experience – do not realise that it was a Labour controlled Council that first identified the site for development when they published their version of the Local Plan in 2014 (it is still available to be read “on line”).

The previous version of the Plan, agreed by the outgoing LibDem led council in 2011, had retained the site in the Green Belt.

An incoming Labour administration adopted a “Big City” approach to development and earmarked large areas of Green Belt for development. They wanted to grow the size of the City by 25%. This included building on the land at Moor Lane.

Later the plan was jettisoned when Labour lost control of the Council following a by election in the autumn of 2014.

Labour on social media Mar 2019

The latest version of the Local Plan – backed by the ruling LibDem/Tory coalition – protects the Moor Lane site from building.

Not withstanding this, developers are still trying to use the 2014 draft Local Plan as leverage to get planning permission for the site before the final revised  Plan is implemented  by central government.

It takes a particularly thick brass neck to accuse your opponents of responsibility for a mistake that your own side made.

NB. Labour have published their 2019 local election manifesto. In it they promise to build hundreds of new houses each year many of which will be in new “villages” on the outskirts of the City. The new “villages” will be located on what is now Green Belt land.

Residents urged to help save Askham Bog

On Saturday 15th September, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) will be holding an open event for local residents to help save York’s oldest nature reserve; Askham Bog.

Over the summer, developers announced plans to build 500 new homes on land adjacent to the Bog off Moor Lane in Woodthorpe, despite the fact that the land is earmarked as Green Belt in the emerging Local Plan. They organised a leaflet drop in the local area to promote their proposal, which has generated anger from residents concerned about the impact.

Cllr Stephen Fenton at Askham Bog with Alastair Fitter and Louise Wilkinson from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Sir David Attenborough, who visited Askham Bog in June 2016, described the nature reserve as a ‘cathedral of nature conservation’ and as important to the people of York as the Minster.

The YWT is encouraging residents to visit Askham Bog on Saturday from 10am to 3pm, where they can learn more about the nature reserve and how they can help protect it.

Cllr Stephen Fenton, Liberal Democrat Ward Councillor for Dringhouses and Woodthorpe, commented:

“As ward councillors, I and my colleagues have been absolutely clear that we do not support this proposed development because of its proximity to Askham Bog, and I know many local residents feel the same. We have had to fight off previous proposals to develop this green belt site, and we will do the same again.”

“I want to thank YWT for organising Saturday’s event, and I would encourage residents to attend and get involved by learning what they can do to help save Askham Bog.”

“I hope that when they consider the emerging Local Plan, the planning inspectors take into account the strength of feeling about this special site.”

More information on YWT’s event can be found here: https://www.ywt.org.uk/events/help-us-save-askham-bog.