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

Council must get to grips with planning system

Today’s announcement of a plan to build on greenbelt land between Acomb and Poppleton highlights the problems that lockdown is bringing for the planning system in the City.

An application for a major new development on Boroughbridge Road has been submitted.

The Councils Local Plan never got beyond the preliminary stages of a hearing in public before restrictions caused proceedings to be suspended.  

As so much of the Plan depends on – now impossibly unrealistic – assumptions about economic growth and the demand for extra housing that will bring not surprisingly some objectors are calling for a new plan to be developed.

But that would leave the City without a basis on which to judge individual applications for a period of 5 years or longer. It would also involve enormous cost which the taxpayer can ill afford. It isn’t even certain when revised ONS population figures could be published reflecting what is now called he “new normal”.

The “new normal” won’t be clear for at least a year.

Against that background, some developers are spotting the main chance and seeking to exploit the chaos in the planning system. Losing large chunks of the Green Belt to avarice would be a disaster for the City.

The Council only has itself to blame. They bounced their own Lowfields development – much of which is being built on playing fields – through the system before it could be subject to a proper public inquiry. The Council may, therefore, find it difficult to defend its position, if significant numbers of appeals are lodged against planning applications even if they have been rejected locally.

This also raises the issue of the role of the planning committee.

At least on “meeting” of the committee will be held later this month (21st May at 10.30am) to consider an application at the hospital. Many of its members will not be allowed to participate in what will be a “remote” meeting.

Instead what the Council terms a proportional sample will make decisions (Cllrs (Cullwick, Chair, Pavlovic, Vice Chair,  Ayre, Hollyer, Perrett, Kilbane and D’Agorne). The “proportion is based on the relative strength of the political parties represented on the Council. However planning decisions should not be determined by party political priorities. Each application should be judged on its merits.

Several Conservative and Independent members are therefore being excluded from the process, ostensibly on the basis that the more who log in the greater the risk of technical failure.

It may be that the hospital application will prove to be uncontroversial. The only outstanding application is for  the erection of vascular imaging unit on Wigginton Road. The application was submitted last August. The only significant issue appears to relate to drainage.

But there are other controversial proposals in the pipeline. The Acomb/Poppleton proposals may be the tip of the iceberg.

A more inclusive way of making decisions is required.

NB. We were sorry to learn of the passing recently of Rachel Macefield who was the lead planning officer for the Council on the York Local Plan. Our condolences to her family and friends.

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.

Future of local football team unclear

2.9 miles from Lowfields to “replacement” football pitch

In a planning  committee report, officials are still claiming that the Woodthorpe Wanderers Football team will relocate from the Lowfields sports field to a new pitch being created on the  Green Belt near London Bridge on Tadcaster Road.

Residents had understood that this had been ruled out as too remote and lacking in perimeter security. The Club does have access to the nearby college pitch.

The  London Bridge field may, however, meet the needs of the Bishopthorpe football club.

The fate of the Lowfields football pitch is central to plan to build houses at Lowfields.

The Sports Council have objected to the loss of the facility.

The Council has now said that they will consider the planning application at their August meeting, well ahead of the start of the Public Inquiry into the York Local Plan.

There have been a lot of objections to the Local Plan relating to the development of the playing field.

Not surprisingly local amenity bodies are crying “foul” over the timing of the planning applications. The Lowfields Action Group have updated their Facebook page.

A few months ago the Action Group published an alternative layout for the Lowfields site which would have ensured that the pitch was retained while also providing space for 200 homes.

Alternative proposal for Lowfields tabled by residents

There are some serious implications for existing Council tenants within the  “housing development programme” published by the Council today. We’ll comment on these later in the week.

Last chance to have your say on York’s future housing, jobs and growth

There are only a few days left for residents, businesses, developers and landowners to help shape one of the most important strategies of our generation, by having their say on the Local Plan sites consultation.

Developers are eye land at the end of Grange Lane

Developers are eyeing land at the end of Grange Lane

City of York Council is currently preparing York’s Local Plan, which will support the city’s economic growth, protect York’s green belt, address the shortage of housing and help shape future development and employment in York over the next 15-years and beyond.

On the west of the City there are a number of controversial proposals notably the plan to build on the playing fields at the former Lowfields school site.

Residents don’t, of course, know what alternative proposals developers are suggesting although one – development  of the land a the end of Grange Lane – has become public.

Extract from Focus newsletter 1988

Extract from Focus newsletter 1988

Ironically it is almost exactly 28 years to the day since a proposal to develop land near Askham Grange was first mooted.

At that time, local Councillors were able to successfully fight off the threat and the land has remained in the Green Belt ever since.

The eight-week consultation finishes on Monday 12 September at 5pm on the Local Plan Preferred Sites document, which outlines revised figures for housing, employment and sites.

 Go online:  http://tinyurl.com/LPGrange to complete the survey and to find a full copy of the Local Plan Preferred Sites document

Email: localplan@york.gov.uk  

Telephone: 01904 552255

Get involved: on Twitter @CityofYork or Facebook @CityofYorkCouncil via the hashtag #YorkLocalPlan

Write to:  Freepost RTEG-TYYU-KLTZ, Local Plan, City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

Developer eyes land next to Chapelfields

Chapelfields developmentAccording to papers seen by Ward Councillors, a developer is  still hoping to build on land at the top of Grange Lane. The news came only days after the Council announced that all existing Green Belt land lying between the built up area and the A1237 northern bypass would continue to be protected.

The confirmation of the existing Green Belt boundaries was made possible after the LibDems identified sufficient “brownfield” (previously developed) land to meet housing needs for the foreseeable future.

In total around 12,000 additional homes will be provided over the next 20 years under the new Local Plan

It means that building works will be concentrated on sites like the rear of the railway station.

However developers can appeal against this decision and they may have the support of the Labour party which originally tabled proposals which would have seen the City increase in size by 25%.

Local Councillor Andrew Waller has criticised the Grange Lane plans.

Aug 2016 Find out more Local Plan“Development on this site would exacerbate traffic problems in the area which are already acute at school arrival and leaving times. 

The fields between Chapelfields and the ring road provide a soft boundary between the open countryside and  the City and include some informal recreational walks.

They shouldn’t be sacrificed so a private individual can make a quick profit”.

I hope that residents will write to the Council supporting the existing Green Belt boundaries”. 

Response forms are available on the Council’s website (www.york.gov.uk/localplan ) or are available from the Council’s West Offices reception or from Acomb library.

 

Revised York Local Plan promised

The York Council has said that it will publish a draft of a new Local Plan next month.

Big City smallIt 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;
(more…)

New Local Plan

Labour have revealed that 2 new Gypsy (Traveller) sites will be established during the next 5 years on land described by the Council as being located between the A1237 (Moor Lane) and the  Rufforth (B1224).

More transparently it is located about halfway between the York boundary and Rufforth on Wetherby Road

There will be a total of 30 pitches at the sites.

These sites were not subject to consultation last year and  seem to have appeared out of the blue.

Copies of the new Plan can be downloaded by clicking here

 

 

 

Crunch Green Belt meeting put back

Green Belt campaign logo The Council meeting – which was to have publicly discussed for the first time Labours plans to build in the York Green Belt – has been put back from the 18th September to Monday 22nd September.

The decision has not been publicised and is obviously designed to ensure that only minimum notice is given to residents about the revised plans.

Labour hope that this will frustrate opponents of their original plan which would have seen the size of the City increase by 25% over the next 15 years.

Now it appears that the new plans won’t be made available to the public before 15th September.

The proposals will then be rushed through a – Labour controlled – Cabinet meeting on 25th September.

 

 

 

York Green Belt showdown meeting date set for 18th September

The meeting to discuss possible changes to Labours highly controversial  Local Plan proposals will take place on Thursday 18th September at 5.30pm at West Offices.

View of Minster from Acomb Moor click to enlarge

View of Minster from Acomb Moor click to enlarge

This will be the first opportunity that residents will have to personally confront the Labour Councillors who are responsible for the plan which could see 22,000 additional homes built  in the City – mostly on land currently defined as “Green Belt”

The Labour plan would see the city increase in size by 25% over the next 15 years with potentially dramatic effects on transport, health, education and other public services in the City.

The papers for the meeting will be published on 10th September on the Councils web site.

Any approved changes – and there will have to be some as new brownfield sites for over 1600 homes have been identified since the draft plan was published in April 2013 – will apparently be reported to a “Cabinet” meeting on 25th September.

Given that there were over 15,000 objections to the Councils plan, giving residents only  8 days to read and analyse the official response is insulting to residents.

Amongst the original plans were proposals to build on Acomb Moor (opposite Foresters Walk) and land opposite Woodthorpe/Acomb Park on Moor Lane.

Green Belt campaign logo

Proposals to build a “Showman’s Yard” on land between Wetherby Road and Knapton were subsequently withdrawn by the land owners, although the Councils enthusiasm for the scheme means that the Green Belt designation of the site is still under threat.

Labour are hoping to rush their plans through before they lose power in next years local Council elections. However a protracted  Public Inquiry (Examination in Public) now seems inevitable.

Residents who wish to speak at either of the meetings (18th and/or 25th) must register to do so at least a day before the meeting.