Local Plan: 14,000 objections to city wide consultation

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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.

York Labour Councillors reveal cunning plan?

Site capacity for new homes - draft Local Plan. click to enlarge

Site capacity for new homes – draft Local Plan. click to enlarge

Labour Councillor Dave Merrett seems to have overstepped accepted guidelines when welcoming a planning application for the Our Lady’s school site.

He was quoted in the local paper as supporting a plan to build 56 homes on the site – almost double the number allocated in the Local Plan that Cllr Merrett approved in the spring.

If approved at the meeting on 21st November, the proposal would mean that the green space, school nature reserve and children’s playground will all be lost.

Normally executive Councillors avoid commenting publicly on planning applications once they have been submitted. They allow normal consultation with residents to take place before a cross party planning committee meeting decides on the merits of each proposal.

A public intervention by an executive Councillor could be deemed to be putting undue pressure on the planning officers who work in his department and who will author reports recommending approval or rejection of an application.

Officials are understood to have said already that the density on the development – at 82 homes per hectare based on the existing built footprint- is in excess of what would normally be permitted in a sub-urban location.

Meanwhile the Council Leader is also interfering in the planning processes.

Following on from his public opposition to converting unused shops into residential accommodation, he told the last Council meeting, when questioned about the higher number of housing units coming forward on brownfield sites that,

sessions site

sessions site

“the important distinction between the positions of the Liberal Democrats, and the Conservatives it has to be said, is that the other parties believe those living in central wards should have housing built on any spare piece of land anywhere near them and outer wards should continue to enjoy protection against any development anywhere near them”.

“The truth is housing should be built in both central and outer areas where it can be shown to contribute to tackling the city’s housing crisis at the same time as protecting residents’ local amenity”.

In fact over recent months it is central area sites that are seeing high densities proposed with Our Lady’s school only the latest in a long line which includes the former Press offices in Walmgate, the Burnholme club and several dozen others.

The Council Leader may, however, be confused about what constitutes “central wards”.

NB. The Planning committee will consider next week a proposal to build 59 homes on the former Sessions site on Huntington Road. Of these 20% will be “affordable”

The density of the proposed development is just over 32 dwellings per hectare, and would be more densely developed than the surrounding residential areas. However this figure appears to be in conflict with the figures shown in the draft Local Plan.

The draft Local plan showed only 17 homes being built on this (0.47 hectare) site

York Local Plan – Save the Green Belt campaign gets another boost

The Council are now saying that they hope to have read all the representations made by residents about the draft Local Plan by the end of October.

How long it will be, before meetings start to take place at which residents will have the chance to challenge Labour’s Plan assumptions, is anyone’s guess.

Residents protest against Local Plan

Residents protest against Local Plan

However the Plan’s assumptions about the number of homes that could be built on brownfield sites continue to be eroded.

The latest planning application – for the Brecks Lane site at Strensall – is for 104 homes. That compares to an assumed capacity for the site, listed in the draft Local Plan, of 82.

Last week we learned that the British Sugar site will accommodate 1300 homes. The Local Plan forecast only 998.

In addition, around 20 planning applications for new homes have been submitted to the Council over the last 4 months, for sites where either zero residential units had been assumed in the Local Plan or where the number now planned is over 20% higher than the Local Plan estimate.

These include proposals for The Press office building in Walmgate, the Burnholme Club site and Our Lady’s school on Windsor Garth.

They do not include new “windfall” sites like the Bonding Warehouse, Ashbourne House, the Yearsley Pub not to mention Oliver House where we now understand that negotiations about the buildings future have recommenced (some 18 months after it became empty).

It is now clear that there is sufficient brownfield (previously developed) land to satisfy York’s reasonable housing needs for the foreseeable future.

What is also clear is that Labours Local Plan is discredited. They will have to re-write large sections of it.

The sooner that they start the better.