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Claims 1,000 Acres Of Greenbelt Land Around York Don't Need To Be Built On.

Julian Sturdy Haxby Greenbelt - October 2013

7:43am 17th December 2013

It's claimed a thousand acres of green belt around York don't need to be built on. The city council's allocated the land for new housing as part of it's 15 year Local Plan. But York Outer MP Julian Sturdy says the Planning Minister's told him, land doesn't need to be earmarked for after the plan expires in 2030.

Julian Sturdy said: "The Planning Minister, Nick Boles MP, has reiterated the comments he made in Parliament in October, that there is nothing in any piece of government planning guidance which requires local authorities to plan beyond the 15 year period. For York, this could mean over 1000 acres of land is set to be unnecessarily taken out of the greenbelt if the Council’s draft Local Plan progresses in its current form".

Julian Sturdy adds that at a meeting in Westminster with himself and some of his Conservative colleagues from the Council, Mr Boles confirmed that there is nothing binding the City of York Council to removing 1000 acres from the City’s greenbelt. Instead, he adds, the Minister said that the National Planning Policy Framework only suggests local authorities should ‘safeguard’ land ‘where necessary’.

In response to the comments made by the Minister during their meeting, Mr Sturdy said:

“I welcome the Minister’s clarification that there is no requirement for any local authority to allocate land for development beyond the 15 year life of the Local Plan and I look forward to the withdrawal of the Council’s proposals to remove 1000 acres of greenbelt land for precisely this reason. When the Minister first made these comments back in October, I wrote to the Council’s planning chiefs to advise them as such and I am still awaiting their response.

“While there is a requirement to ensure the City always has a five year supply of housing allocations, the Council have until 2025 to safeguard land and they have failed to make a strong case to support making these decisions 10 years earlier than they need to made. By taking this land out of the greenbelt now, the Council are opening themselves up to pressure from developers to release it earlier than scheduled and to be frank I have no confidence in their ability to resist this pressure.”

York Council says it'll ask the government for more information but that it is following planning rules.

Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, Deputy Leader of City of York Council, said: “York is following the established planning approach. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) clearly states that on defining the extent of the Green Belt it should have a degree of permanence beyond the life of the plan, otherwise there is a clear risk of the boundaries being changed each time the plan is reviewed. Doing this would undermine the credibility of the Green Belt.

“We will be seeking further information from the government on this as well, but the draft York Local Plan makes it clear, based on advice given in paragraph 85 of the NPPF, that ‘safeguarded land is not allocated for development at the present time’ and that’ planning permission for the permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following a Local Plan review which proposes the development’.

“This is also echoed by Policy SF6 of the draft York Local Plan, which makes it clear that any sites identified as safeguarded land have been excluded from the Green Belt to ensure it endures beyond the lifetime of the plan and protects these sites from development that would prejudice their long term role as a reserve of land for future development should the need arise.

“The plan is very simply following long standing national policy on the Green Belt and is leaving land out of this area to ensure the boundaries of the Green Belt do not have to be reconsidered when the plan is reviewed.

 “These are fundamentally important points as York’s Local Plan Preferred Options progresses and seeks to provide land for an additional 22,000 additional homes over the 15-year period to 2030. The plan is required to look ahead 15-years from the anticipated point of adoption in terms of the allocation of specific sites for much needed housing and employment opportunities in order to meet the needs for viable and deliverable sites and to help potential investors plan ahead. The council and its partners have realistic plans to support the growth of York’s economy and must make plans for adequate housing to support this growth".

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