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Confusion Over York's Local Plan After Green Belt Debate

York Local Plan Map

6:01am 15th May 2014

Confusion surrounds plans for the development of York over the next fifteen years after comments by a planning minister in a debate.

The controversial York Local Plan proposes building 22,000 new homes across the city between 2015-2030, as well as expanding the number of windfarms and travellers' sites.

York Council has said the high number of homes are needed to provide homes as the city's economy grows. But that suggestion has now been challenged with Planning Minister Nick Boles saying authorities can only allow building on the countryside in "exceptional circumstances".

Although Nick Boles did not mention York's plan by name, his comments that "Ambition and the desire to grow faster than one's neighbours or perhaps to build a small empire is not a sufficient justification for putting protections at risk" seems to directly contradict the council's reasoning.

The Deputy Leader of York Council, Tracey Simpson-Laing has written to the minister and asked to meet him to discuss the issue, in a statement she said:

“The progression of York’s Local Plan rightly continues to be in the national limelight and we have written to MP Nick Boles to ask him if he can take the opportunity to discuss his observations on the plan process and our City Region aspirations for growth and how the National Planning Policy Framework is our enabler to achieve this."

“The plan will affect all future generations so it’s important that we can place York in the best possible position before we submit this to the Government next year. Meeting MP Nick Boles to discuss his comments on his issues, such as Green Belts, is an important step towards this.

“As we progress the plan and move towards our second and final round of consultation at the end of this year, the magnitude of the last consultation is still felt by everyone and echoed by over 14,000 representations made by developers, land owners, residents and businesses -  which is the largest amount of responses we've ever received during a consultation."

“Whilst we still have some time to go before the plan is adopted, we do recognise that the biggest challenges for York are the city's need for more affordable housing for residents, delivering more jobs, and protecting York's unique built and green environment for future generations - and through the Local Plan we hope to achieve this. It is anticipated that a final draft of the Local Plan will be published for consultation mid-year and submitted for examination in Autumn.”

But York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, who has campaigned against the current York Local Plan, believes the council will now have to think again saying:

“I welcome the Minister’s very helpful comments and I hope that the City of York Council will give serious consideration to removing the allocations of ‘safeguarded’ land from their draft Local Plan, in light of the fact that there is absolutely no need for them. I’m also pleased that the Minister has agreed to review the terminology the Government uses for ‘safeguarded’ land, which frustratingly leaves many of my constituents under the false impression that the land is protected from development rather than allocated for it.”

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