York Council’s Green Belt submission

City of York Council has submitted more information about the definition of the city’s green belt to the Planning Inspector examining the local plan.

The council submitted the explanation of how it defines the outer boundary of the green belt, with explanations of other green belt boundaries set to follow. Officers also issued the timetable to deliver all the remaining additional information requested by Government inspectors by the end of April. 

Having received the bulk of this information in December and January, inspectors have previously indicated that the examination is likely to progress to online consultation over the new information, followed by further hearing sessions, most likely to be held in summer at the earliest.  

The council has published the submitted evidence on its key decisions page, which will be added to the latest correspondence on the examinations webpage www.york.gov.uk/localplanexamination shortly.

Mission Impossible 2

The black farce that is the York Local Plan process has taken a step sideways.

A letter from the appointed inspectors has ordered the Council to consult on the recent changes it has made to documents which should by now have been formally approved and implemented.

The consultation will take up to 6 weeks to complete.

It can only start as and when the Council gets round to publishing details of the latest changes that it proposes to make to the City’s Green Belt boundaries.

The Inspectors letter can be read by clicking here.

The letter concludes by saying that the examination in public will not recommence until June at the earliest. It will probably be held as a “virtual” (on-line) meeting.

We have said before, the Local Plan process is fundamentally flawed.

It is based on the proposition that it is possible to predict the economic and social changes which will occur over a 20 year period.

BREXIT and the pandemic have put paid to that notion.

We would all struggle to predict how the York economy will look this time next year, let alone in 2040.

Yet the Local Plan could see vast swathes of the City blighted as planners seek to allocate sites to house 790 additional families each year.  

That level of job growth to support such inward migration is simply is not going to happen in the  post pandemic world.

Image result for mission impossible gifs

York presses on with Local Plan

City of York Council have today written to their appointed planning inspectors as part of the examination process of the Local Plan.

The Local Plan will provide a framework to guide and promote development, and to protect the quality of York’s unique historic, natural and built environment. The document will set strategic priorities for the whole city and forms the basis for planning decisions for the next 15 years and beyond.

The Council have now completed the technical work required to provide an update on household growth and housing need in the city in response to the Inspector’s July letter regarding the latest household projections released by the Office for National Statistics this year.

Using the recent publication of updated household projections, including taking into account the latest demographic and economic trends, the Council has determined that the housing need in York has not changed materially since the last assessment in January 2019.

The previous report identified a need for 790 dwellings per annum (dpa) and the economic-led need within this new report is as high as 788 dpa. We therefore continue to support our proposed modification to the plan for a housing requirement of 822 dpa (790 dpa objectively assessed housing need plus a shortfall of 32 dpa) as discussed at our phase one hearing sessions in December 2019.

The letter also states the Council continues to work on a response to the concerns expressed in a letter on 12 June 2020 regarding the methodology for determining Green Belt boundaries.

The Council is updating the Green Belt Topic Paper Addendum and its Annexes to simplify and clarify the methodology.

That work has not at this stage revealed any need for significant changes to the proposed Green Belt boundaries.

The letter also confirms the Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA), has been completed but is with Natural England, our statutory consultee, for their view on the conclusions reached. Following their response, the HRA will be submitted as soon as possible and we will engage with interested parties on the conclusions set out in the report.

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

City of York Council Executive Member for Finance and Performance, Councilor Nigel Ayre, said:
“We are committed to delivering a sound Local Plan for the city as soon as possible.

“I would like to thank City of York Council’s planning officers and the Government inspectors who continue to progress the plan throughout these uniquely difficult times.”

Demand for additional housing reducing

According to sources within the York Council, the the Office for National Statistics new population projections published yesterday, may have major implications for York Local Plan assumptions.

. The new projections have substantially reduced population growth expectations.

The 2018-based population projections show growth over the next 10 years (2019-2029) is expected to be 31% lower than predicted four years ago in the 2014-based projections.

This equates to 1,270,000 persons and would have serious implications on housing need across the country.

Although of course the government decided to ignore this evidence last time around, and may do so again once these are translated into household projections.

The majority of growth (57%) over the next ten years is expected to in those aged over 75. This is an increase from 50% in the 2014-based projections. This will have implications on the type of housing being planned for as well a potential labour force deficit in the longer term.

The draft York Local Plan claims that nearly 1000 new homes a year would be needed over the next 20 years.

The figure is an exaggeration.

It increasingly looks like the figures agreed for the 2011 draft of the Local Plan (575 additional homes a year) were spot on.

In the meantime green spaces are being developed unnecessarily. There is plenty of brownfield land available to satisfy demand

Shocking that the Council hasn’t realised that its house building programme should concentrate on providing flats and bungalows aimed at older people.

Lowfields playing field has been wrecked

In turn this would have freed up larger homes for families.

Sadly its probably too late now to be of any help on sites like Lowfields which is an ideal site for older residents being within walking distance of good local amenities. .

The new figures may also explain why some sites that are ready for development – for example the land adjacent to the Barbican – continue to be derelict.

The public examination of the draft York Plan starts in a few days time.

York’s Local Plan – public hearings to take place from December

A framework to guide and promote development, and to protect the quality of city’s unique historic, natural and built environment will take a step forward from December.

Appointed planning inspectors will undertake an independent examination of York’s Local Plan, which will commence with initial hearing sessions at York Racecourse, from Tuesday 10 December from 10am.

More information about the hearings including a detailed timetable for the sessions is available to view at: www.york.gov.uk/localplanexamination

The Local Plan sets strategic priorities for the whole city and forms the basis for planning decisions; it must be reviewed at regular intervals to be kept up to date. 

Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of the Council, said: “The draft Local Plan is one of the most significant strategic documents for our city, as it will determine how York develops over the next 20 years.

“We have been working hard to progress York’s Local Plan and I welcome these public hearings in taking this next step towards adopting a Local Plan for York.

“We remain determined to secure a Local Plan for York that delivers more homes and economic space, whilst protecting the unique character of the city.”

A number of informal debates (hearing sessions) will take place on the principal matters identified by the inspectors.

The initial hearing sessions will cover key matters such as legal compliance, housing need and the York Green Belt.

Participants will be on an invitation basis only, but the hearings themselves are open to members of the public to attend.

The inspectors will take into account the comments submitted to-date, as far as they relate to soundness considerations such as whether the plan is justified, effective and consistent with national policy.

Following the closure of the hearings, the inspectors will prepare a report to the council with precise recommendations, these recommendations may include modifications to the plan.

All other aspects of the plan will be examined by the inspectors during the subsequent hearing sessions, which could take place early next year.

All correspondence with the planning inspectors is available to view at: www.york.gov.uk/localplanexamination

“Behind closed doors” decision on transport, and other investment, needed for York Local Plan

The Council has sent off to central government its proposed new Local Plan. It brings to an end (potentially) 25 years of agonising about the future size of the City.The plan is a compromise on growth rates with over 850 additional homes scheduled to be built in each of the next 20 years.

One key implications of this “Big City” policy is the impact that it will have on the City’s infrastructure. Health, education, leisure and – crucially- transport systems will come under even greater pressure as the population grows.

The additional homes could wipe out any advantages being seen as a result of the small scale improvements currently programmed for the A1237.

Arterial roads could also reach grid lock unless there is substantial investment.

Hopes for an alternative network of  public transport routes also hang on key investment decisions with part of the resourcing needing to come from  developers.

All the stranger, therefore, that a report on what infrastructure improvements will be needed, and how they might be funded, was take at a private meeting yesterday. The papers on the Council web site give little clue to the assumptions contained in the plan. The Council says that more information may be published on 29th May.

Too late then for any critical input on what may yet prove to be the Achilles heel of the plan

Decision taken just hours before the Local Plan was submitted to central government

Latest Local Plan forecasts 20% growth in size of York by 2032

Papers published for a meeting taking place on 13th July say that an additional 19,000 homes should be built in the City before 2032.

Of the target of 953 dwellings per year, around 80 per annum (10%) have been added in order to make housing more “affordable”.

The papers are coy about where the additional 35,000 residents will come from.

Previous drafts have identified immigration as the main source of new labour, although this seems to be in conflict with the present governments polices. Around 2000 inward migrants have arrived in the City in each of the last five years.

A map of the proposed land allocations can be viewed by clicking here

Proposed land allocations – click to access

Hopes that the identification of more building land at threatened MOD sites (Fulford Road and Strensall) would reduce the pressure to build on green fields sites, like the Lowfields playing fields, have been dashed. Officials are recommending that the additional 1392 homes that could be built there over the next 15 years will simply add to the target housing  completion rate (satisfying the increased annual building target of 953 homes per year).

Average housing building rates in York have been about 700 pa over the last 5 years, although last year over 1100 homes were completed. Most homes built in York over the last decade have been erected on what are known, to the planng world, as “windfall sites”; meaning they were not identified as housing development land in local plans.

House prices and building rates

There are currently 3758 planning permissions for homes which remain unimplemented.

The Local Plan remains vague about how growth of the order proposed can be accommodated without serious -and very costly – improvements in infrastructure (notably, transport and healthcare).


The new proposals have little direct impact for the Westfield area. None of the land between the existing built u-p area and the northern by pass is slated for development.

However officials have changed the proposals for the development of the playing fields at Lowfields. They are incorporating the plans favoured by some Councillors which would see the number of dwellings built increased from 137 to 162.

There were 10 objections to development of the Lowfields playing field (including Sport England) while only 3 representations were made in support of the Councils plans.

Extract from Council report covering Lowfields devlopment