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English Heritage Concerns Over York's Proposed Local Plan

York Local Plan Map

3:05pm 25th October 2013
(Updated 4:51pm 25th October 2013)

The historic and special character of York could be put at risk by the city council's proposed Local Plan, according to English Heritage.

English Heritage say protecting York's historic character "has been replaced by the desire for economic growth".

Views on the controversial document which sets out how York will develop between 2015 and 2040 have been published today.

While welcoming many elements of the Local Plan, the organisation says in it's response to the city council:

"The 2011 Plan made it clear that the starting point for the plan was the need to ensure that York's unique historic environment was appropriately conserved and managed. In this latest document, however, this has been replaced by the desire for economic growth."

Further on in the document, English Heritage also state:

"Other than the mention of York on the first line, the Vision is not particularly place-specific nor does it articulate the special qualities and distinctiveness of the historic city. York's character is its main selling point. It is the reason why it gets so many visitors each year, what attracts businesses to invest in this part of Yorkshire, and why people choose to live and work in the city. Consequently, the starting point for the vision should be to ensure that whatever happens in York, it does so in a manner which not only safeguards, but also strengthens, the city's unique environment."

An English Heritage spokesperson told Minster FM,

“Although we have a number of concerns about the emerging strategy for the City, we are working with the Council to ensure that the future growth of the City can be delivered in a way which protects the special character and setting of the historic City. We have contributed the latest version of the plan and look forward to continuing to contribute to discussion as it develops".

In total, almost 14,000 people gave their views on the controversial proposals, either by contacting the council directly or signing petitions on various issues. These views will be discussed at a meeting next month.

The city council told Minster FM it was too early to comment on individual responses but did say the Local Plan aims to support the city's economic growth and address the shortage of housing.

Speaking generally about the plan, Cllr James Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council, said:

“The importance of the Local Plan can not be underestimated. The plan will affect all future generations, so it was extremely important that we gained as much feedback as possible. The magnitude of the consultation was felt by everyone, and echoed by over 14,000 representations which is the largest amount of responses we’ve ever received during a consultation.

“We still have some time to go before the plan is adopted but we recognise that the biggest challenges for York are the city’s need for affordable housing for residents, delivering more jobs, and protecting York’s unique built environment for future generations - and through the Local Plan we hope to achieve this.

“We thank everyone for their responses, which will now be fed back into the final Local Plan submission draft before going out to consultation again next year.”

Cllr Dave Merrett also speaking about the overall plan added:

“The progression of the Local Plan continues to be pivotal for York, ensuring we have the first adopted Plan since 1956. The Local Plan must meet the Government’s new planning guidance and we must be able to demonstrate to the Government’s inspector that York can meet its various development needs.

“Equally importantly is that, after modifications, the finally adopted Local Plan will create the first fully defined Green Belt for York and will include important policies to protect York’s historic and green heritage, make best use of brownfield sites, ensure good new design including infrastructure provision and prevent an unplanned free for all approach – protecting and enhancing York’s special qualities for future generations.”

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