York Local Plan Inquiry goes ahead

Following notification of the General Election to be held on 12 December 2019 the Planning Inspectorate has issued guidance stating that Local Plan examinations should proceed as planned. 

There had been speculation that the examination would be suspended until after 12th December.

The hearings into the City of York Local Plan will therefore commence at 10.00 am on Tuesday 10 December 2019, as previously notified

Phase 1 of hearings of the City of York Local Plan will commence at 10.00am on Tuesday 10 December 2019 in the Gimcrack Room at York Racecourse at Knavesmire Road, York YO23 1EX.

Further details can be found via this link.

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

Local Plan inquiry dates set. Askham Bog appeal imminent

A planning appeal into the York Council’s refusal to allow a development near Askham Bog will start on 12th November.

Askham Bog in autumn

The potential developers (Barwood Land) refused to wait for the results of the public hearing into the York Local Plan (which protects the area near Moor Lane in Dringhouses from development). Instead they have pressed ahead with their planning application.

The Local Plan Inspectors are now preparing for the first stage of hearings, which will address legal compliance including the Duty to Co-operate, Housing Need and Green Belt. Provisional dates have been agreed with the Inspectors for these initial hearings to be held on selected days over a two week period, commencing on Monday 9 December 2019 at York Racecourse.

 The Inspectors will shortly be issuing the Council with their Matters, Issues and Questions (MIQs) which will be published on the examination library (link above) along with the Council’s response to these questions. The Inspectors will also produce a hearing timetable giving more detail on the hearing sessions including the schedule for each day.

 Representors (all those who commented on the Plan during the Regulation 19 Publication consultation and the Proposed Modifications Consultation) will be given the required formal notice (6 weeks) when the dates and venue have been finalised.

We will also update the examination library with these dates and will issue a press release with details of the dates and venue and where to find more information.

Independent report into housing in York published

Local Government Association (LGA) report says the house-building rate in York is comparable to rest of the country.

The net new supply in York increased the existing housing stock by 1.5% during 2017/18.

This is much higher than the England average of 0.9%, suggesting the level of local supply is unlikely to be an issue. The Government’s national target of 300,000 homes per year is equivalent to 1.3%.

Population growth in York is set to average 686 people per year from 2020 to 2041, with projected average annual household growth of 430 households over the same period. This is significantly lower that the Council is forecasting in its draft Local Plan

According to the report, which was published this week, the average house price in York in 2018 was £254,000. The median ratio of house prices to local earnings is 8.8. This is higher than the England average of 8.0, suggesting high house prices are likely to be an issue for some

Private rents in York in the 12 months to September 2018 ranged from £565 per month for a lower quartile one bed to £2,058 for an upper quartile four (or more) bed property. The overall median private rent was £745, which is approximately the same as the England average of £690, suggesting that high private rents may also be an issue.

House prices in York in December 2018 are higher than their 2007/08 peak by 25.4%, compared with England at +27.3%.

Employment in York improved from 75.3% in 2014/15 to 78.7% in 2017/18; unemployment changed from 3.6% to 3.1%; and economic inactivity changed from 21.7% to 19.4%.

Gross domestic household income in York was £18,070 per person per year in 2016, compared with £14,133 in 2006. By comparison the figure for England changed from £15,349 to £19,878 over the same period.

The overall population in York changed by +0.6% due to migration in the 12 months to June 2017: +0.2% from domestic sources and +0.4% from international.

By age, the largest single contribution to growth was from 19-year olds.

The average life expectancy for people born in 2015-17 in York is 80.2 years for men and 83.5 years for women.

The equivalent national figures are 79.6 and 83.1 respectively.

The report confirms that second home ownership, empty homes and inward migration numbers are not significant issues for the City compared to the rest of the country.

The full report can be read by clicking here

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.

York’s green spaces; going, going…

It is sad to see so many green spaces in the City being gradually eroded.

The reality of planning decisions, taken by the Council over the last few years, are rapidly becoming clearer. The trend is particularly evident in west York where former school playing field have proved to be vulnerable.

It started with the development of the playing field at the former Our Lady’s school site on Windsor Garth. The “Hob Stone” estate took up the whole of the site with no open space retained.

Next was the controversial decision to build on the Lowfields playing field. The decision was made worse when over £400,000, intended to fund alternative sports pitches, was earmarked for a site near Bishopthorpe, which is some 3 miles from Lowfields.

Concrete now dominates the Lowfields school playing field

The Hob Moor playing field has been torn up and is now part of a building site
The Acomb Bowling club and adjacent Council owned land on Front Street is now also a building site

There are alternative brownfield (previously developed) sites in the City. Strangely the local MP over the weekend announced her opposition to building 2500 homes on the land to the rear of the station while planners have omitted the Strensall army camp from Local Development Plans.

There seems to be little reason why a development at the latter could not be restricted to the “built footprint” of the former army buildings. This would still leave large amounts of new public open space. That option is under consideration as part of the latest consultation on the Local Plan

But for west York the outlook remains bleak. The Council is still dilly dallying on proposals to replace the Multi User Games Area on Kingsway West. The existing one is no longer usable as it is no part of a buildng compound.

…and the newly elected Council, despite lofty talk of having a new “stray” in the City, has noticeably failed to put any flesh on the bones of the idea. Prompt action is needed to secure more public open space on the periphery of the City.

Currently there is little sign of any urgency, or even engagement, by the occupants of West Offices.

Have your say on proposed modifications to York’s Local Plan through 6-week consultation

From Monday 10 June, York residents, businesses and other interested groups will get the chance to comment on additional evidence and proposed modifications to the city’s Local Plan.

Planning inspectors have asked for the six-week consultation period before examining the plan at public hearing sessions later this year.

The consultation will ask for comments on the following additional evidence and modifications, including:

  • removing housing site allocations at Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Strensall and Land at Howard Road, Strensall),
  • formally revising the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAN) from 867 to 790 dwellings in York each year for the duration of the plan. 
  • amendments to the greenbelt boundary have also been proposed, in order to take into account recent changes such as planning decisions in York and the removal of the Strensall Barracks site.

To have your say, visit www.york.gov.uk/localplan. The consultation will end at midnight on Monday 22 July 2019.

Hard copies of all of the consultation documents will also be available in West Offices, Station Rise and York Explore Library. The main consultation documents will be available in all libraries and Explore Centres in York.

The removal of site allocations – totalling 550 dwellings – follows a recent visitor survey commissioned by City of York Council, supported by Natural England, which highlighted that there would be significant effects on the integrity of the Strensall Common, a protected site, if the proposed housing sites adjacent to the Common remain in the Local Plan. 

The reduction in the housing need figure reflects updated national projections for population and housing growth which forecast lower growth than was previously projected. The additional Green Belt Topic Paper Addendum provides further detail on why and where the proposed green belt boundary has been drawn.

The Planning Inspector has asked for the consultation as they consider these issues to be fundamental to what they are examining the soundness and legal compliance of the plan. This will give all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes prior to the hearing sessions.

The Inspectors have directed that the consultation is open to the general public for a period of six weeks and has also advised direct consultation with the Ministry Of Defence, which owns the barracks, and Natural England.

The consultation will only look at these specific modifications and not other aspects of the plan such as the other proposed site allocations. All aspects of the plan will be examined by the Inspector during the subsequent hearing sessions. 

All the representations received during the consultation will be processed and sent to the planning inspectors, who have committed to holding the public hearing sessions as soon as possible after that.

You can read all correspondence with the Planning Inspectors at www.york.gov.uk/localplanexamination

York’s Local Plan

The Local Plan is a framework to guide and promote development, and to protect the quality of York’s unique historic, natural and built environment. The document 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.

York’s Local Plan was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in May 2018.  For more details on the process and progress to secure a Local Plan for York, visit https://www.york.gov.uk/localplan

Council election manifestos compared

6. Planning and Social Care

A draft Local Plan agreed for submission in 2011 would have seen 575 homes per annum built in the City.

10 year housing completions trend in York

Labours “Big City” approach alternative was floated in 2013.  It would have seen the City grow by 25%. Many of the houses would have been built in the Green Belt, which would have been damaged irreparably. The plan never reached the public inquiry stage.

During the last three years an average of 1131 additional homes have been provided in the City each year.

This compares to an average, over the last 10 years, of 652.

The latest Local Plan – still not adopted – envisages 790 homes a year being provided. This is still much higher than ONS projects say is necessary and would require a sustained growth in jobs, the scale of which has not been not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

Labours manifesto still advocates building in the Green Belt.

The number of York residents supported at home through care package is around 1800. About 650 residents are admitted to nursing or residential care each year. The figures are stable

Over the last 18 months the numbers of delayed discharges from hospital resulting from unavailable “care in the community” facilities has fluctuated between 4 and 11 patients.

There have been delays in the Councils elderly persons new accommodation strategy. Although some homes have closed, there has been little progress “on site” in building new facilities at Oakhaven, Lowfield, Haxby etc.

Local Plan update

York’s Local Plan is now one step closer to commencing hearing sessions led by the Planning Inspectorate.

This follows the submission of important evidence to the independent inspectors, who have been appointed by the Government to examine the plan.

This includes the modifications to remove housing site allocations (Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Strensall and Land at Howard Road, Strensall), which would remove 550 dwellings from the submitted plans housing supply. 

This follows a recent visitor survey commissioned by City of York Council, supported by Natural England, which highlighted that there would be significant effects on the integrity of the Strensall Common, a protected site, if the proposed housing sites adjacent to the Common remain in the Local Plan. 

A report detailing these recent modifications was approved by Executive at a meeting on Wednesday 7 March.

In addition to this, proposed minor modifications have also been submitted to formally revise the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAN) to 790 dwellings in York per annum. Minor amendments to the greenbelt boundary have also been proposed, in order to take into account recent changes such as planning decisions in York and the removal of the Strensall Barracks sites.

It is hoped that by submitting this evidence to the inspectors, progress can be made to take the Local Plan through the examination stages and determine whether it is sound.

Regular updates will be provided on the Local Plan submission webpage at: www.york.gov.uk/localplanexamination  

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.