New blueprint for district development unveiled

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A REVISED blueprint to map out development across a Yorkshire district has been unveiled more than a year after original plans were shelved when a Government planning inspector stepped in over concerns raised by the region’s oldest brewery.

Selby District Council has unveiled the overhauled draft policies which is aimed at delivering a total of 7,200 new homes up until 2017 in a bid to counter a critical lack of affordable housing.

A total of £1.5m was spent on the Selby district’s initial proposals for a Core Strategy, although the document had to be suspended in the autumn of last year after concerns were raised by a Government-appointed planning inspector over house-building targets.

The planning inspector acknowledged fears from Yorkshire’s oldest brewery, Samuel Smith’s, and others that the council expanding into green-belt land to meet housing targets, and excessive growth planned for Tadcaster, represented deficiencies in the proposals.

Coun John Mackman, the council’s executive member with responsibility for place shaping, has already claimed that the decision to halt the initial plan is compounding a lack of affordable housing and stifling the economy in a North Yorkshire district.

He has now admitted that there are “a number of key steps” that the council still needs to negotiate, including a public consultation which has been launched on the revised Core Strategy.

Coun Mackman said: “It’s an important process, designed to ensure that our long-term plans meet the needs of our community now and into the future.”

It had been hoped that the new document would be adopted by the end of this year, although a final public hearing to examine the proposals will not be heard until February 27 next year.

Depending on the outcome of the examination in public, the Core Strategy will then need to be considered at a full council of the district authority before it can be adopted.

Coun Mackman added: “We have already had some positive feedback from the Planning Inspector on the changes we’ve made and the work we have done since the previous examination in public was suspended. So we look forward to finalising the strategy in February.”

The development blueprint will outline sites for commercial and industrial development, but the proposals to build new homes are seen as key to the over-arching strategy.

There are about 1,900 new homes already in the pipeline in the Selby district which have planning permission, which leaves about 5,300 to be identified on new sites. But the council expects the population in the district to grow to nearly 100,000 from its current 82,000 by 2017.

In total, the strategy identifies the need for up to 128 acres of employment land across the district, including the £300m Olympia Park project, which accounts for nearly half of the total area.

The regeneration scheme to transform derelict land to the north of Selby and create 1,000 new homes and more than 2,000 jobs is one of the biggest developments the district is likely to witness this century.

A critical lack of affordable housing in North Yorkshire has been accentuated in the Selby area, which was named as one of the locations that have best weathered the national property slump.

The Selby area was named in July as the 20th most desirable location to live in the Unsung Property Heroes study, with the amount of homes being bought and sold remaining at 59 per cent of the 2007 peak - compared to a national average of 54 per cent.

The delays over the Core Strategy are the latest problems to emerge in the fractious relationship between the council and the Tadcaster-based Samuel Smith’s brewery.

The Yorkshire Post revealed last week that a judicial review about the proposed re-development of a car park in the centre of Tadcaster, which the council has maintained is vital to attracting more trade and boosting the town’s economy, will take place on March 7 next year.

email paul.jeeves@ypn.co.uk