York Council got housing demand figures badly wrong

International migration forecast shows substantial reduction

The Council has finally released a consultants report into future house building requirements in the City. It is based on the latest 2016 population forecast produced by the Office of National Statistics

It shows a spectacular reduction on previous forecasts.

The report will be discussed by a Council working group next week, although the new figures have already been forwarded to planning inspectors.

In 2011 a LibDem Council had agreed an annual growth rate of 575 homes.

This was increased to a, wildly unsustainable, 1100 homes by an incoming Labour administration.

An incoming coalition administration in 2015 finally came up with a figure of 867 dwellings a year.

All have proved to be wildly inaccurate.

Unfortunately several green field sites have been lost already because of the muddle. The actual demand could have been catered for comfortably on brownfield (previously developed) sites

The new figures indicate that an additional 470 homes a year will be required in the period up to 2037. A high growth economy could increase this to 590 homes a year.

.. and that is the figure that some commentators have been advocating for the last 8 years and more.

Unfortunately old habits die hard, and the consultants say that, to deflate house prices (and values), a supply of 790 homes a year is required.

Forecast York housing growth figures Feb 2019

Local Plan hearings set to take place in the New Year

City of York Council has received confirmation from the two inspectors, who have been appointed to examine York’s Local Plan, that a series of public hearings could take place as early as February.

Six weeks notice will be given prior to the start of the hearings at www.york.gov.uk/localplanexamination

The council met its deadline of submitting the plan in May, following agreement to endorse the draft plan at a special Full Council meeting on 17 May.

It also means York has met the timescales previously agreed with the secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Local Plan provides clear rules which determine what gets built, and where, in York over the next 15 years and beyond.

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

Councillor Keith Aspden, Executive Member for Economic Development, said: “I am pleased that the Planning Inspectors have agreed to our suggestion to hold early public hearings on York’s Local Plan, in order to discuss York’s housing need.”

“With the recent publication of ONS data, we are confident that our balanced approach to creating the Local Plan means that we remain on track to securing a plan that will deliver more housing in the city, whilst protecting York’s special character.”  (more…)

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.
(more…)

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.