The York Council has said that it will publish a draft of a new Local Plan next month.
It will be fifth attempt in recent years to come up with a blueprint for the City which seeks both to conserve the natural and built heritage, while making provision for the additional 10,000 or so homes required over the next 20 years to meet the natural growth in population size (excess of births over deaths).
More controversial will be the Councils’ decision on economic expansion targets.
The “Big City” approach of the last Labour Council could have seen an additional 25,000 homes built in the City – most of which would have been occupied by inward (economic) migrants. The proposal attracted 14,000 objections. The policy led to Labour losing control of the Council in 2015 and since then a Tory/LibDem coalition has struggled to find common ground on house building numbers.
The LibDems were elected on a manifesto of conserving the Green Belt.
Labour politicians are now briefing that two Green Belt sites (at Whinthorpe & Clifton Gate) will get the go ahead, albeit with both reduced in size. However, both would have huge cost implications with a new access corridor being required to accommodate the first, while Cliftongate (between Clifton Moor and Skelton) would make dualling the A1237 essential.
The Council has been criticised for not coming up with a firm timetable for decision meetings on the new Plan. The only firm date given for public discussion is 30th June when apparently the Councils Executive will discuss it prior to formal public consultation being launched. Even this date has not been included in the Council’s Forward Plan of key decisions.
The Council statement reads;
The York Council has released what it claims are new figures intended to quantify the demand for housing development land in York.
The most recent Office of National Statistics population forecasts for the City show a marked reduction compared to the assumptions used when Labour published their version of the Local Plan three years ago.
Their plan to build 23,400 additional homes, mainly to accommodate foreign immigration demand (see table 5), prompted a “Big City or Our City” debate at the last local elections in May 2015. Labour’s ideas were rejected at that poll and the expectation is that the York Council will revert to a more reasonable annual building target of around 575 homes per year
Population increase drivers. Click to enlarge
Population growth forecasts, produced by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), have reduced dramatically in recent months. They currently show the City’s population growing from 203,000 to 224,000 (approx 21,000 people) between 2012 and 2031.
With an average of 2.2 people residing at each dwelling, that is equivalent to a requirement for about 500 additional homes each year. To this should be added an assumption about economic growth (which generates additional housing demand)
The new report will come as a disappointment to many. It fails to examine the capacity of the City to absorb growth without fundamental damage to its character.
The jargon littered papers conclude that 758 additional homes are required each year.
The report does make some progress on two issues:
- It accepts that there is a 5 year supply of land available to satisfy immediate housing demand requirements. The list of sites considered to be available (most already have planning permission) can be found by clicking here
- Officials now accept that part – around 140 additional homes pa – of the housing demand will be satisfied from “windfall” opportunities. These are sites which the Local Plan either does not schedule for housing or a combination of very small sites. Most of the planning permissions granted in recent years have been for windfall sites not identified in the 2013 Plan.
The Council seems still to be some way from finding its way through a mass of contradictory evidence.