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;

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.

New figures reveal further threat to York Green Belt



Liberal Democrats say that thousands of extra houses could be built on the Green Belt after new figures were released by Labour run York Council.

Green Belt campaign logo


The housing figures are contained in papers published as part of the council’s 6 week ‘further sites’ consultation, which begins today. Labour was forced to include the housing figures after Lib Dem councillors ‘called-in’ the decision to start public consultation without the numbers.


Last year Labour’s Draft Local Plan earmarked 16,000 houses for York’s Green Belt. However, the new information shows that use of so-called ‘safeguarded land’ could increase that figure by thousands more. Safeguarded land is allocated to meet long-term development need and means land that is being removed from the Green Belt and earmarked for housing.Safeguarded sites at Earswick and next to a planned new settlement at Whinthorpe could see over 2,000 and over 4,000 houses built respectively.


Meanwhile, some Green Belt sites first identified last year will increase in size, including East of Metcalfe Lane and North of Haxby while new sites such as Stockton Lane, the Old School Playing Fields in New Earswick and off Boroughbridge Road would see hundreds more houses built if Labour’s proposals are agreed.


959 housing sites “missed” from draft Local Plan

Green Belt campaign logo

Nearly two thirds, of the homes granted planning permission since Labours draft Local Plan was drawn up, have been for sites omitted from the Plan.

A total of 1831 new sites for homes have been agreed since October 2012.

This is in addition to the 3231 sites which already had planning permission.

That means developers could now erect 5062 homes in the City – a 6 year supply of land, based on average house building rates over the last decade.

Of the total new permissions granted, 1678 were for brownfield sites. The vast majority – including the former Press offices in Walmgate – were not identified for residential use when the draft Local Plan was published 12 months ago.

The Council’s plans continue to under-estimate the supply of brownfield land. The plan should identify any site – of more that 0.2 ha in size – with potential for housing.  The draft Plan failed to do so.

The additional sites which will be considered on 17th April also fail to do so.

The Council has also said that it does not know how many additional homes could be accommodated on the new sites due to be considered on 17th April.

It is an important issue as the Council has not made any allowance for “windfall” sites in its calculation of the total build requirement for the next 15 years.

Nor has it identified the potential for conversion of existing commercial property with some very large opportunities – such as Ryedale House, Stonebow and Hillary House – excluded from the calculations.

Promised conversions, of the upper floors of shopping premises, have also been excluded.

A full list of the permissions granted can be downloaded from here

The figures are likely to be of considerable significance when the Local Plan reaches the Examination in Public Inquiry stage.

The make up of the Draft local Plan base numbers is as follows:

The Local Plan Preferred Options was based on a position at 1st October 2012. The total number of residential net outstanding consents (commitments) at that date was 3,231 dwellings. This is detailed in Chapter 10 of the LPPO document (Housing Growth and Distribution). The table below splits this figure into site categories.


York Local Plan – confusion grows

No sooner had the agenda for York’s Council meeting – to be held next Thursday – been published, than meetings to discuss the Local Plan have appeared in the Council’s diary of events.

The Council agenda had included several questions critical of the delays, and lack of clear milestones, in the preparation of the Local Plan

Yesterday we reported that the Forward Programme of decisions – a legal requirement for all major issues – did not include any reference to an update of the Local Plan.

Residents protest against Local Plan

Residents protest against Local Plan

So far, residents have not even had an opportunity to speak out about Labour’s plan – announced a year ago – to increase the size of the City.

Now a mysterious “special” meeting of the Councils “Cabinet” has been scheduled for Wednesday 23rd April. The Councils web site has been amended today to say that;

During the consultation additional information on sites was submitted by landowners and developers.  Before making any final decision on sites to be included in the Local Plan, the Council would like to understand the public views on this additional information. Reports relating to this will be considered at the Local Plan Working Group and a special cabinet in late April and this will be followed by public consultation”.

Whether landowner’s comments will do anything to reassure residents about the Councils expansion plans remains to be seen.

The Council has still not published the 4000+ objections made by residents to the original plan.

Any new information is due to be considered by the (all party)  “Local Plan Working Group”, a meeting of which has now been scheduled for Tuesday 22nd April. As this is the day before the Cabinet meeting, it is unlikely that the working groups views – much less any views expressed by residents – would be reported to a meeting which is taking place the next day.

Legally the Cabinet cannot take any decisions on “key” matters – like the Local Plan – without giving 4 months notice in their Forward Programme.

They have still not published a timetable of milestone dates which will lead up to the inevitable Public Inquiry into their plans, which is now unlikely to take place before next year.

LibDems demand answers on York Green Belt questions

Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for an urgent update on controversial plans to build 22,000 houses in York.

Labour run City of York Council’s Draft Local Plan proposes building 22,000 houses over the next 15 years, including thousands on Green Belt land. Public consultation on the plan closed in July last year and over 14,000 responses were received – the vast majority in opposition to the proposals.

Green Belt campaign logo

However, eight months after the consultation closed the full responses have still not been published and there has been no opportunity for councillors or residents to publically discuss the plan or the public reaction.

No dates for meetings have been included in the Council’s Forward Programme of decision dates (published this week) which covers all major issues scheduled to be considered during the forthcoming 4 months

Cllr Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Planning and Sustainability, commented:

“Thousands of residents took the time last summer to study the plans and respond to the consultation. It is ridiculous that eight months later these views have still not been fully published and the concerns raised have not been addressed.

“Labour should immediately publish these responses in full and organise a meeting of the council’s cross-party Local Plan Working Group. They need to give opposition councillors and residents the chance to discuss the issues and their concerns. Labour need to tell residents what is going on and publish a detailed timetable. At the moment residents are being kept in the dark and feel they are being ignored.

“The whole process is being shrouded in secrecy by Labour and in the meantime planning applications on the Green Belt, such as Becks Lane in Strensall, are being approved on an ad-hoc basis. We also know that the council is already talking to developers about building at other key Green Belt sites.”

At the meeting of York’s Full Council next week (Thursday 27th) Cllr Reid will ask the Labour Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability the following questions:

  • When will a timetable of meetings be published at which residents can make representations on the (revised) Local Plan proposals?
  • Why is it taking so long to publish – as promised – the written comments and objections which the Council received following its initial consultation on the Draft Local Plan last year?
  • What is the proposed timetable for the preparation of the Local Plan up to, and beyond, the Examination in Public (Public Inquiry)?

Updated public opinion survey results – Lendal Bridge closure, traffic congestion, 20 mph speed limits

These are the public opinion survey results for West York updated as at 20th December 2013.

Traffic   congestion getting worse? Agree 91%
Disagree 2%
Unde 7%
Lendal   Bridge closure a success Agree 7%
Disagree 80%
Unde 13%
Lendal   bridge – lift access restrictions Agree 87%
Disagree 5%
Unde 8%
No   justification for building in Green Belt Agree 90%
Disagree 3%
Unde 7%
Public   service standards are deteriorating Agree 89%
Disagree 2%
Unde 9%
I am opposed to city wide 20 mph speed limit Agree 81%
Disagree 7%
Unde 12%

The Council is also conducting an “on line” poll on the Lendal Bridge “trial”

It can be accessed by clicking here.

Local Plan: 14,000 objections to city wide consultation

Green Belt campaign logo

Thousands of residents and businesses along with other organisations have responded to City of York Council‘s extensive city wide consultation which will help shape the development of York’s future Local Plan.

The figures and initial feedback are outlined in a report to be taken to the Local Plan Working Group on Monday 4 November, available to view click here

The papers list petitions received and these include objections to the development of Acomb Moor as well as opposition to development of land between Wetherby Road and Knapton.

Statutory bodies have criticised the proposal to increase the size of the City with English Heritage saying that they would harm the special character of York while Leeds University says that the growth figures are wrong.

The North Yorkshire County Council is critical, while the Highways Agency records concerns about the impact the plan would have on transport systems.

However most of the individual objections are still being analyzed by Council officials.

Even the Council Leadership have acknowledged that the number of objections are the largest ever received in response to a Council proposal.