Huge reduction in York population forecast

Latest government figures forecast that the population in York will grow to 221,200 in 2031. This is a substantial drop in the forecast included in the Local Plan which provided for a population of 231,374.

The current population (2016 figures) is 206,900.

It means that over the next 15 years the natural demand for additional homes will be around 433 p.a. compared to the Local Plan assumption of 686 (2.2 people per property).

The Local Plan provides for 923 dwellings per year to be built although this assumed some “catching up” on the numbers not completed in recent years.

The rest is down to growth with highly ambitious job creation figures included in the Local Plan.

The Local Plan is due to be “examined in public” by an Inspector shortly.

However, the constantly changing background figures and government guidance, increasingly make planning a lottery.

The officer reprt on the latest changes can be read by clicking here

York Local Plan Infrastructure report published – if you can find it!

We reported last week that a behind closed doors decision had been taken to approve two key reports associated with the York Local Plan.  They were to have been submitted to central government last week to meet the important deadlines.

One report concerned the infrastructure delivery plan.  We said that this should have been available publicly before any decision was taken.

The decision notice (see below)  said that instead it would be published on the Council’s web site on Tuesday (29th).

A report has now appeared but not on the listed Council web page. It can be downloaded by clicking here  

It is an 80 page document which deserves some careful consideration.

One active local commentator has pointed out that, given the many years that have led up to the submission of the Local Plan documents, the consideration of this document now looks like an afterthought.

The Council has not yet commented on why proper notice of the decision meeting was not given in an open and transparent way.

“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

Key plan for York moves a step closer

The plan to protect York’s green belt and special character while providing the housing and employment the city needs will be considered by Councillors this week..

A report detailing responses to the latest public consultation on York’s draft Local Plan will go before the Local Plan Working Group tomorrow and the council’s Executive next Tuesday (8 May).

If Executive approves the proposals, the full council will vote on 17 May on whether to submit it to the government. This would see the plan submitted to the government within the timescales agreed with the secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

York needs a Local Plan to support the city’s economic growth and shape how the city changes over the next 15 years and beyond. The publication draft outlines areas of the city which can be developed, as well as rules and principles which help achieve the vision of a ‘city with special qualities and distinctiveness that are recognised worldwide.’

Key features of the plan include:

  • Provision for around 20,000 homes over the next 20 years, with around 4000 more homes delivered through affordable housing schemes
  • Provision to create around 650 new jobs per annum
  • Policies to protect and enhance York’s heritage culture and ensure that any new developments are of the highest standards
  • Preserving York’s setting and character by banning inappropriate greenbelt development
  • Protecting the environment, including stopping developments which are subject to flood risk and ensuring sustainable design
  • Providing levels through reducing, reusing and recycling.

 

Under two weeks left to make your comments to government on York’s Local Plan

City of York Council is reminding residents to make final comments on the city’s Local Plan ahead of its submission to the government for examination.

The council is preparing to submit the plan – which determine how the city changes over the next 15 years and beyond – to the government in May.

The plan allocates the sites where new development should take place, taking into account factors like the green belt, the historical and natural environment, flood risk and access to public transport.

The six-week consultation on the ‘publication draft’ of the plan, which opened on 21 February, closes at midnight on Wednesday 4 April.

The council’s ‘publication draft’ is the result of extensive studies and consultation with residents, landowners, developers and statutory consultees like government agencies.  Comments made during this consultation will go direct to the government, to be considered by a Planning Inspector at an Examination in Public.

The council is stressing that this consultation is different because the Examination will only consider certain issues about the plan, and has produced guidance to help residents make comments which the Inspector can use.

The council has produced a special booklet to explain how to make your comments, and what information the government’s Planning Inspector will be able to consider. It was distributed to homes across the city in February, and is also available in libraries, at West Offices or online at www.york.gov.uk/localplan

You can see all the same information, how to respond and view the full Publication Draft and supporting documents:

All responses must be made by midnight on Wednesday 4th April 2018 to ensure they can be considered by the Government.
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Housing hyperbole helps no one.

Call by MP for York Local Plan to be rejected was irresponsible and poorly researched

Claims by Rachel Maskell MP that people do not live in high-value, luxury apartments built in the City Centre, and that the homes were purchased as “an investment, or they are used just for holidays and race days or weekends”, don’t seem to be rooted in fact.

Maskell also claimed the push for more City centre accommodation is “an experiment in social cleansing”, relying entirely on anecdotal evidence to support her assertion.

She repeated her claims last week 

 Publicly available statistics confirm that,of the 1036 homes built in the first 6 months of the current financial year, 637 were aimed at students. Student needs reflect in both housing targets and outturns.  Most of the flats were built on Lawrence Street. They are hardly “luxurious” or “expensive” but they do not count as affordable housing (because it is tied accommodation)

Provision of specialist accommodation of this type reduces the pressure to convert family accommodation into student lets.

Between April 2017 and September 2017 planning permission was also granted for 892 new homes. These included large developments at The Barbican, Nestle, and Hungate. (Only 3 were for student accommodation)

The emerging Local Plan provides for 867 new homes to be built each year. This compares to an average of 686 completed over the last 5 years. At least 20% will be “affordable”.

Historic figures (see below) reveal that there has been a spurt in house building in the City over the last 3 years.  Before that, five years of recession took a toll on house building numbers.

The housing waiting list has stabilised at 1200 (excluding those seeking a transfer) with people waiting on average for 12 months for a new home. The number of homeless, presenting to the Council, is now around 100 a year (down from a 10-year peak of 258).

Lack of land clearly is not an issue impacting on the granting of planning permission for new developments in the City.

The Council might be criticised for not releasing funding to buy properties on the open market to increase the social rent pool. It had run a surplus of over £20 million on its housing account for over 6 years (although very recently it agreed to release some of the surplus to ease social housing demands).

In addition, the total amount of unspent payments in lieu of affordable housing that the council currently holds is £4.325m.

There are issues to be addressed. The apparent spike in “rough sleeping“ has previously been highlighted.

Over the last few months the Council has guaranteed a hostel bed for anyone found sleeping on the streets. It is an initiative that seems to have worked during the recent period of cold weather.

York desperately needs a Local Plan.

Funding the endless revisions has debilitated the Council’s budget with an estimate of £10 million already having been devoted to the process.

Arguing that the current proposals should be abandoned is both reckless and shortsighted.

Some revisions to the text might be expected, but the basic thrust of the document is right and, most importantly, deliverable.

Make your comments to government on York’s Local Plan

  The Council is urging residents have one final say on  the Local Plan. Comments will go direct to a government appointed independent inspector. Those who wish to, may be invited to speak at an “examination in public”

The forms aren’t easy to fill in although it can  be done “on line“. Land owners and developers, who stand to make £millions if green field land is identified for development, will no doubt pay for professional help.

The average resident must do his or her best. But its definitely worth having your say.

Locally most attention will be on the plan to build on the Lowfields playing field. That is likely to attract strong opposition, not least because it conflicts with other policies in the Plan  For example Policy GI5 : Protection of Open Space and Playing Fields para 9.14 – 9.18; says,

Save Lowfields Playing Field

“Development proposals will not be permitted which would harm the character of, or lead to the loss of, open space of environmental and/or recreational importance”

On the other hand, the Council seems to have got the proposed boundaries of the Green Belt right at least on the west of the City

Over-development of the City would be a serious burden for subsequent generations.

The media release says,

York residents are being urged to take the opportunity to make final comments on the city’s Local Plan.

A six-week consultation starts today as the council prepares to submit the plan – which will drive York’s economic growth and determine how the city changes over the next 15 years and beyond – to the government for Examination.

The council’s ‘publication draft’ is the result of extensive studies and consultation with residents, landowners, developers and statutory consultees like government agencies.

Comments made during this consultation will go direct to the government, to be considered by a Planning Inspector at an Examination in Public.

The council is stressing that this consultation is different because the Examination will only consider certain issues about the plan, and has produced guidance to help residents make comments which the Inspector can use.

 You can find out how to make your comments, and what information the government’s Planning Inspector will be able to consider, in a special booklet being distributed to every household in the city.

The booklets will be delivered to every household in the city alongside – but not inside – another local publication.

If you haven’t received your household’s copy by Monday 26 February, please request one through localplan@york.gov.uk or call 01904 552255.

You can see all the same information, how to respond and view the full Publication Draft and supporting documents:

All responses must be made by midnight on Wednesday 4 April 2018 to ensure they can be considered by the Government.

Just when you thought is was safe to go outside again

Local Plan consultation booklet set to hit doormats over next 10 days

 

York residents are being urged to look out for a special booklet landing on doormats over the next 10 days.

Its yet another “consultation” on the Local Plan.

There have already been at least 7 separate opportunities for residents to comment over the last 5 years. The most recent came latest summer. Not surprisingly the response rate to each consultation has gradually reduced and consultation fatigue has set in. The lack of response to objections  – mostly dismissed off hand by Council officials – means that the latest booklet may be ignored by many.

Yet in many ways it is the most important, as the comments will go to an independent inspector who will hold an “examination in public”. This is a kind of Public Inquiry.  It is the only chance that residents get to present their case to an experienced official who should balance arguments objectively.

The booklet explains how residents can tell the government what they like and dislike about the city’s proposed Local Plan – the document which determines how the city develops over the next 15 years and beyond.

The Council has spent over £12 million during the last 15 years on drafting the Local Plan. Despite this the Plan has yet to be adopted as policy.

The ‘York’s Local Plan – how to make your comments to government’ – booklets are being distributed ahead of a consultation running from Wednesday 21 February until midnight on Wednesday 4 April.

The city is required to have a Local Plan to support York’s economic growth and determine how the city changes, including where new homes and jobs are created.

Residents’ views from two recent city-wide consultations in 2016 and 2017 have helped to shape the final proposals. The council is stressing that this final consultation is different.

The results of this consultation will be submitted directly to the government ahead of an Examination by a planning inspector.

The booklets will be delivered to every household in the city alongside – but not inside – another local publication.

If you haven’t received your household’s copy by Monday 26 February, please request one through localplan@york.gov.uk or call 01904 552255.

More gloom as latest York Draft Local Plan unveiled

Transport gridlock a possibility, as City set to grow in size by over 20%

Yet another set of proposed changes to the Council Draft Local Plan have been published by the York Council. If accepted at a meeting taking place next week the number of extra homes to be built in the Area could increase from an estimated 867 dwelling a year to as many as 1070.

Officials blame inconsistent national population projections for the indecision.

Developers eyeing stables on Tadcaster Road

If accepted, they higher figures could mean more Green Belt land being developed in the Metcalf Lane, Wigginton Road and Elvington Lane areas. The racecourse stables land on Tadcaster Road is once again under threat while developers want to build a whopping 1575 dwelling at Galtres Farm near Huntington

The York Central (brownfield) figures could also increase from 1500 to between 1700 and 2500 units, with more offices also planned for the site.

The main impact of any increase in  house building, and associated economic development, will be on the Cities, already creaking, transport systems. Increases in traffic congestion levels could be as much as 25% on some roads.

The 20% increase in the City’s population – over just 20 years – has never been effectively explained or challenged by Councillors. The effect that such high growth rates will have, on the character of the City, is considerable.

Many fewer people have responded to the Councils latest consultation than previous exercises.

Residents now have “consultation overload” and are fed up with raising the same issues time and time again without receiving any convincing response from the authorities.

Lowfields – Plan to build on sports pitches

A prime example is the campaign to conserve the playing field and sports pitches at Lowfields. 80% of respondents oppose the Councils plan to develop the field, yet their views are being ignored.

The stage is now held by vested interests.

Land owner, developers and their agents are squabbling over the available cake. Large profits depend on the outcome of the Local Plan deliberations

There will be a final period of is=consultation shortly. The results of the consultation will then be placed before an independent inspector at an “Examination in Public”.

That will give ordinary residents an opportunity to air their views in what should be an impartial forum.

 

Councils traffic projections Jan 2018

Local Plan – Tory Minister criticises Tory delays in submitting plan

Tories have been mired in Local Plan controversy

A government Minister is threatening to take over the preparation of the Local Plan for York.

Good luck with that then.

Millions of pounds have already been spent on  research projects and consultation. The last thing a northern City needs is the dead hand of London government interfering at the last minute.

York had a perfectly good draft Local Plan ready to submit for final approval in February 2011. Then a new administration was elected and new Council Leader James Alexander unveiled his “Big City” proposal which would have seen York increase in size by 25%.

Large areas of Green Belt land would have been developed

Few wanted that, so, not surprisingly, 4 years later his high growth based Local Plan was ditched before it even made it to a public enquiry.

Residents protest against Labour’s Local Plan in 2013

The latest plan – which still has elements of controversy – was almost ready when central government announced that it was closing two barracks in the York area. That potentially released a large amount of additional building land into the pool. The Council could not ignore that change and has spent 12 months agonising about how to react to the news.

Tory housing numbers plan 2015 election manifesto

If they had ignored the change, then objectors would have rubbished the plan for being incomplete.

Yes maybe the Council  should have moved along a little quicker but final consultation on the latest plan ended on 31st October so there is nothing to stop an “Examination in Public” now being scheduled.

Far from speeding up the process, it is more than likely that any intervention by central government will result in further delays.

The Council has now said that it will follow this timetable

Timetable for delivery:

Sep / Oct 2017             Consultation over pre-publication draft of Local Plan

Jan 2018                      Publish results of Local Plan, which go to the Local Plan Working Group and the council’s Executive

Feb-March 2018          Consultation on final version of the Local Plan

May 2018                     Submission to Secretary of State

York Liberal Democrats have responded to Minister’s Local Plan statement

Today, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announced that he will be starting the formal intervention process in our Local Plan.

The Liberal Democrats do not share the same views expressed by the Secretary of State; that York has ‘failed to cooperate’ on its duty to provide local development schemes. 

In reality, we have been working tirelessly over the last few years to create a Local Plan that is right for the City of York, a plan that provides the homes and opportunities we need to grow our city, whilst protecting its unique heritage. 

Unfortunately, as we approached the final stages of setting our Local Plan, the Ministry of Justice announced the closure of three barracks in the City.  As a result, we re-consulted on the Local Plan and set back the process by 6 months, in order to absolutely ensure the people of York had the opportunity to have their say.

It is essential to the future development of York that our Local Plan is determined by local people, not forced upon us by central government.  The Conservatives and the Cities MPs should stand up for York and not allow Government to dictate the future of our City.  The Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose outside interference and deliver a local plan for the City.