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Meeting in Heworth Without about York's Local Plan


11:16am 18th June 2013

Plans for a new 1,800 house development on Green Belt land on the outskirts of York have come under attack at a public event.

Around 150 residents attended a ‘drop-in’ session at Heworth Without Community Centre to find our more about proposals in City of York Council’s draft Local Plan to develop land to the east of Metcalfe Lane for housing and build wind turbines nearby. Local people and Heworth Without Councillor Nigel Ayre have claimed that the scale of development would put pressure on local infrastructure and destroy the character of the area.

At the event, Cllr Ayre spoke to local residents hearing about their concerns over the plans and listened to criticism of the Council’s handling of the eight-week public consultation. Cllr Ayre and Heworth Without Parish Councillors also carried out a short survey as residents left the venue – this revealed that out of 77 people asked 71 felt the development would destroy the character of the local area and 76 said that local transport infrastructure would not be able to cope. Out of those surveyed there was also overwhelming opposition to the scale of Labour’s housing growth with 74 out of 77 favouring 16,000 or fewer houses not Labour’s plan for 22,000 houses over the next 15 years.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Heworth Without, commented:

“The local response to these proposals has been overwhelmingly against. Residents are deeply concerned about the impact 1,800 houses could have on existing traffic issues and the impact the housing and possible wind turbines would have on the character of the local area. Residents tell me this is Green Belt land and they want it protected. Local people overwhelmingly recognise the need for housing growth, but it is the scale of growth, use of the Green Belt and doubts over Labour’s ability to deliver the infrastructure and jobs which are sparking such a wave of opposition.

“Residents are also angry about the Council’s approach to the consultation. Documents have been hidden and even now we are still awaiting key reports. The Council is only carrying out a limited series of public meetings and residents question whether 8 weeks is long enough to properly study the plans, gather local views, and develop detailed arguments against. There is also scepticism, given the Labour Council’s track-record of ignoring local residents over bus, bin and library cuts, whether people will be listened to this time.”

Cllr James Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council, said: “Every household will receive information about York’s Local Plan and have the opportunity to have their say over how we address York’s homes crisis.

“York does not currently have a defined Green belt and the draft Local Plan has the opportunity to define it for the first time whilst securing homes and jobs for the future.

“We encourage all of York’s residents and businesses to take part in this consultation before Wednesday 31 July. The significance of what York’s Local Plan will deliver can not be underestimated and without a plan, recent changes in Government legislation would see uncontrolled development across the draft Green Belt.”

Dave Merrett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Sustainability said: “The draft Local Plan includes 19 supporting documents which give a really extensive insight into how the plan has been put together and how we will deal with all aspects of biodiversity, heritage, retailing, sports and active leisure and much more.”

Last week, it was revealed that over 2,000 people have signed a Liberal Democrat petition against Labour’s plans to build 22,000 houses on York’s Green Belt over the next 15 years. The petition was launched by Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for York Outer, Nick Emmerson and can be found here: www.yorklibdems.org.uk/saveourgreenbelt

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