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York MP Wants Planned Travellers' Sites Ditched

Julian Sturdy 210613

7:37am 20th February 2014

A York MP has called for plans for 36 new caravan pitches for gypsies and travellers in the city to be abandoned.

Julian Sturdy, who represents York Outer, believes it's a waste of taxpayers' money and risks "further damage" to the city council's reputation. His main concern are plans for the sites on York's greenbelt which he calls "irresponsible and complacent" and accuses the authority of a "blatant disregard for the greenbelt".

The additional traveller and gypsy sites are part of the city council's controversial Local Plan, which sets out how York will develop over the next fifteen years. It also includes plans for 22,000 new houses in the city.

Julian Sturdy believes a recent case in Stanley near Wakefield, where plans to build 10 traveller pitches on greenbelt land were refused shows there will be problems with the plans for York. The MP also stated comments from Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis which he says shows that even when there is a need more traveller sites, this is not a good enough reason to build on the greenbelt.

But the city council has hit back, in a statement given to Minster FM, cabinet member Dave Merrett said:

"Plans for traveller pitches within the draft Local Plan were consistent with Government policy on increasing the supply of pitches nationally.  We are reviewing the evidence in the light of comments received and the latest Government guidance.  The final target numbers, site allocations and green belt boundaries in the forthcoming submission version of the plan will be one of the issues on which the Local Plan will be judged sound, or otherwise."

"Conservative Group Leader Chris Steward publicly said this week that Conservatives are not against Green Belt development, so it appears that they are just against traveller pitches. Planning permission recently for increased pitches at Osbaldwick has not been called in by the Government, indeed they are Government funded so it seems Mr Sturdy is completely at odds with both national and local planning policy on this issue."

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