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York Local Plan Row As Council Talks to Developers

York Local Plan Map

5:48pm 14th January 2014

Opposition councillors have criticised York Council for talking to developers about it's draft Local Plan raising fears the public will be ignored

14,000 people in the city gave their opinions on the Local Plan through letters and petitions. The controversial plans proposed building 22,000 houses over the next 15 years, including 16,000 on green belt land.

However, opposition Lib Dems say they fear the public will be ignored after it was revealed that the council is already talking to developers about building at key sites.

During the consultation concerns were raised about the scale of development, the loss of green belt land, and the impact on local schools and roads. Organisations such as English Heritage, the Environment Agency and Natural England also questioned the proposals.

Lib Dem councillor Keith Orrell for Huntington & New Earswick commented:

“The consultation on Labour’s draft Local Plan received a record number of responses last year. Thousands of residents took time to study the proposals and write comments or sign petitions. The plans met with huge public opposition and legitimate questions were raised about the loss of green belt land and the impact the developments would have on local infrastructure.

“Instead of addressing these issues, it appears the council is prejudging the outcome of the Local Plan process and openly discussing early delivery of earmarked sites with developers. This is before the public comments on the sites have been fully published or the issues raised addressed. It is also before the final plan has been unveiled yet alone approved by government.”

Meanwhile Carol Runciman, fellow Lib Dem Huntington & New Earswick councillor added: “The council needs to follow the correct procedure and demonstrate that it is taking on board the public responses and where necessary amending the plans, in particular the proposals to use green belt land. Instead, the triumphalist tone of the report discussed yesterday indicates that Labour have already made up their mind and are determined to force through their plans with or without public support.”

But the city council has hit back, Martin Grainger, head of Planning & Environmental Management, said: “City of York Council carried out an extensive eight-week city wide consultation last year and as a result received the largest ever feedback to a council survey, with over 14,000 responses.  Developers and land owners played an integral part in this consultation, as they will continue to do going forwards in the final stage of consultation later this year.

“It’s important that the council takes a proactive and open approach to future development that will affect future generations for years to come, and by talking to potential developers now it will hopefully ensure a sound plan can be taken forwards and submitted to government later this year. However, further work is clearly needed before the delivery of these sites can come forwards and all consultation fed back from members of the public will play an important part in this process.”

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