New Row over Plans for York's Greenbelt
5:44pm 21st June 2013
Yesterday, Julian Sturdy, the MP for York Outer, raised his concerns over the future of York’s greenbelt and asked for a parliamentary debate on the issue, in Business Questions in the House of Commons. In his response, the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley MP, expressed his support for greenbelts in protecting the character of historic Cathedral cities and said the Council should listen to the views of local residents.
Mr Sturdy’s request for a debate comes after the City of York Council have announced controversial plans to build 22,000 new homes in York over the next 15 to 20 years, including approximately 16,000 on the greenbelt, as part of their draft Local Plan. 40 wind farms and over 80 Traveller and Showpeople pitches have also been proposed. Mr Sturdy has been a vocal opponent since the draft Local Plan was first announced in April and has persistently criticised it for being unsustainable and inappropriate for the City of York.
In Parliament yesterday, Mr Sturdy asked:
“May we have a debate on the protection of our green belt, and in particular on the important role it plays in protecting the character and setting of our historic cities, such as York in my constituency where more than 2,000 acres of green-belt land is under threat from the council’s draft local plan?”
In his response, Mr Lansley said:
“My hon. Friend makes an important point. I know he will have sympathy with other colleagues who have historic cities in a countryside setting in their constituency. That was precisely the description applied to Cambridge when its structure plan was agreed some 10 years ago. The essence of the Government’s localism policy is to give more opportunities for local communities to establish the framework for local planning and development. The Government have given that power to York city council, which is not under the control of our party, and I hope that my hon. Friend is successful in ensuring that it listens to the views of the people he represents.”
In response, Labour Leader of City of York Council, Coun. James Alexander said:
“Andrew Lansley has told Julian Sturdy exactly what he already knows, which is that this is a local responsibilityone the council is taking very seriously. Although Mr Sturdy won’t admit it, he is against house building in any quantity that will have a positive effect on making York a more affordable place to live, just as local Conservatives are happy to provide for gypsies and travellers as long as it is in another authority’s area. Local Conservatives are only interested in existing Conservative voters and protecting their interests, not in doing what is right for the city and the next generation.
“I’m pleased Andrew Lansley has declined Mr Sturdy’s request for a debate which is right if the Government really believes in localism”.
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