York presses on with Local Plan

City of York Council have today written to their appointed planning inspectors as part of the examination process of the Local Plan.

The Local Plan will provide a framework to guide and promote development, and to protect the quality of York’s unique historic, natural and built environment. The document will set strategic priorities for the whole city and forms the basis for planning decisions for the next 15 years and beyond.

The Council have now completed the technical work required to provide an update on household growth and housing need in the city in response to the Inspector’s July letter regarding the latest household projections released by the Office for National Statistics this year.

Using the recent publication of updated household projections, including taking into account the latest demographic and economic trends, the Council has determined that the housing need in York has not changed materially since the last assessment in January 2019.

The previous report identified a need for 790 dwellings per annum (dpa) and the economic-led need within this new report is as high as 788 dpa. We therefore continue to support our proposed modification to the plan for a housing requirement of 822 dpa (790 dpa objectively assessed housing need plus a shortfall of 32 dpa) as discussed at our phase one hearing sessions in December 2019.

The letter also states the Council continues to work on a response to the concerns expressed in a letter on 12 June 2020 regarding the methodology for determining Green Belt boundaries.

The Council is updating the Green Belt Topic Paper Addendum and its Annexes to simplify and clarify the methodology.

That work has not at this stage revealed any need for significant changes to the proposed Green Belt boundaries.

The letter also confirms the Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA), has been completed but is with Natural England, our statutory consultee, for their view on the conclusions reached. Following their response, the HRA will be submitted as soon as possible and we will engage with interested parties on the conclusions set out in the report.

The full letter can be viewed at www.york.gov.uk/localplanexamination  

City of York Council Executive Member for Finance and Performance, Councilor Nigel Ayre, said:
“We are committed to delivering a sound Local Plan for the city as soon as possible.

“I would like to thank City of York Council’s planning officers and the Government inspectors who continue to progress the plan throughout these uniquely difficult times.”

Local Plan public hearing

The examination in public of  York’s Draft Local Plan has commenced. It is taking place in the Gimcrack Room at York Racecourse.

There is a large seating space allocated for the general public.

The sessions recommence at 9.00am on Monday when the Green Belt boundaries are likely to be considered at length.

This week the inquiry has mainly considered the position of several land owners and developers all of whom are desperate for their particular track of land to be zoned for house building. Such a designation can raise values by over 100x so not surprisingly those vested interests are well represented by professionals. Millions of pounds are at stake.

Ranged against them is the York Council as its advisors. It will defend the assumptions included in the Local Plan which has taken over a decade to be drawn up.

Actively involved in the debate will be amenity societies, Councillors and ordinary residents. Many will make the case for the conservation of green areas pointing to the importance of the existing Green Belt in preserving York’s unique character.

At times, such inquires can be tedious and repetitive.

Although the proceedings are not being live web cast, the Council is making a recording available on https://www.youtube.com/user/cityofyorkcouncil

This important meeting has been overshadowed by the General Election and the forthcoming Christmas season.

It would be unfortunate, to say the least, if anything slipped through unchallenged which the City as a whole might regret later in the year.  

Further details about the examination can be found here https://www.york.gov.uk/LocalPlanExamination

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.

Demand for additional housing reducing

According to sources within the York Council, the the Office for National Statistics new population projections published yesterday, may have major implications for York Local Plan assumptions.

. The new projections have substantially reduced population growth expectations.

The 2018-based population projections show growth over the next 10 years (2019-2029) is expected to be 31% lower than predicted four years ago in the 2014-based projections.

This equates to 1,270,000 persons and would have serious implications on housing need across the country.

Although of course the government decided to ignore this evidence last time around, and may do so again once these are translated into household projections.

The majority of growth (57%) over the next ten years is expected to in those aged over 75. This is an increase from 50% in the 2014-based projections. This will have implications on the type of housing being planned for as well a potential labour force deficit in the longer term.

The draft York Local Plan claims that nearly 1000 new homes a year would be needed over the next 20 years.

The figure is an exaggeration.

It increasingly looks like the figures agreed for the 2011 draft of the Local Plan (575 additional homes a year) were spot on.

In the meantime green spaces are being developed unnecessarily. There is plenty of brownfield land available to satisfy demand

Shocking that the Council hasn’t realised that its house building programme should concentrate on providing flats and bungalows aimed at older people.

Lowfields playing field has been wrecked

In turn this would have freed up larger homes for families.

Sadly its probably too late now to be of any help on sites like Lowfields which is an ideal site for older residents being within walking distance of good local amenities. .

The new figures may also explain why some sites that are ready for development – for example the land adjacent to the Barbican – continue to be derelict.

The public examination of the draft York Plan starts in a few days time.

More delays to York Local Plan

A planing inspector has told the York Council to consult again on their plans to block MOD bases from being used for house building.

The planning inspectorate says that the changes – agreed earlier in the year – are major and require 6 weeks of public consultation.

The proposals mainly involved the Strensall camp where Natural England argued that redeveloping the base could adversely impact on the nearby nature reserve

In turn this meant that the Green Belt boundary would alter.

The move came as something of a surprise to the MOD who pointed out that part of the base was a previously developed brownfield site – the governments (and Councils) preferred location for housing developments.

The Inspector also wants to see the results of a consultation on new housing need figures. The figures had been scaled back following work by consultants who said that underlying housing demand figures were significantly lower than had previously been forecast.

The shock move means that the start of the “examination in public” will be put on ice again.

It is now unclear when the City can hope to have a fully approved Local Plan in place.

Planning Inspector delays York Local Plan