Time to start planning ahead

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THERE will inevitably be consternation after the property chain Savills claimed that 150,000 houses will need to be built in the “golden triangle” between Leeds, Harrogate and York over the next 20 years to meet demand. This equates to the construction of a new city and will be greeted with outrage by those people who are fighting to protect Yorkshire’s countryside and green belt from further encroachment.

THERE will inevitably be consternation after the property chain Savills claimed that 150,000 houses will need to be built in the “golden triangle” between Leeds, Harrogate and York over the next 20 years to meet demand. This equates to the construction of a new city and will be greeted with outrage by those people who are fighting to protect Yorkshire’s countryside and green belt from further encroachment.

However some perspective is required. This figure is, in fact, comparable to the number of new homes being planned by the councils concerned – the one difference is that town halls plan housing strategies on a five-year basis while Savills has extrapolated the figures to show the importance of the issue over the next two decades.

Either way, Yorkshire is going to require a new generation of housing, in part so more young people can afford to buy a home of their own, and this research can be viewed as a vote of confidence in the economic future of this region. Developers would not be vying to secure parcels of land if there were not sufficient jobs to sustain these new homes – house builders, after all, are not renowned for their benevolence.

But two other points do need to be made. First, there are people who are already alarmed at the extent to which Britain’s recovery is being fuelled by a housing boom, particularly in London.

The Government ignores these warnings at its peril, even though it is trying to make home ownership a more affordable proposition for many young families.

And, second, planners should only approve individual applications after considering the infrastructure implications for each and every scheme.

Many existing schools and hospitals are already stretched to breaking point and it would be a dereliction of duty if these factors, and also flood prevention, were not taken into account by town halls and the Government.

As such, the Savills report is a gentle reminder about the need to plan ahead – and the importance of maximising the use of redundant brownfield sites before even more green fields are bulldozed over.

The lottery of life

Anguish behind IVF anomalies

THE availability of IVF fertility treatment on the NHS is a question of fairness. If it is available in some parts of the country, why should couples in other parts of the country be denied the chance to conceive their own child because of an enduring postcode lottery?

This is why the decision to lift the blanket ban on IVF in North Yorkshire is to be welcomed. Even though the proposed number of treatments still falls short of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence’s own guidelines, this move is a step in the right direction.

Of course, there will be a small number of hard-nosed individuals who will question whether public money should be used in this way, even more so when the National Health Service’s financial plight in North Yorkshire has led to the diminution of so many care services in the region.

But this simplistic view fails to take account of the emotional toll suffered by those women who cannot conceive naturally, and which cannot be reflected adequately in any budget spreadsheet.

And it ignores the fact that Nice agreed 10 years ago that couples should be entitled to three cycles of IVF treatment free of charge, a guideline ignored by most NHS commissioning bodies. Financial realities mean there are no easy answers, but that does not excuse this lottery of life which continues to cause so much anguish to so many families across the region.

An irony of timing

Does coal still have a future?

IT IS an irony of timing that the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike should coincide with a new financial threat to the very existence of Kellingley Colliery, one of two remaining deep pit coal mines in this county.

Yet, while the issues confronting the energy industry today are very different to those that divided the country in 1984-85, every last opportunity must be explored to save a mine that employs 700 people and has ample reserves.

At a time when this country is so dependent on energy imports from Russia as Vladimir Putin’s regime attempts to hold the world to ransom over Ukraine, it would be a dereliction of duty on the part of David Cameron’s government – and the wider coal community – if no meaningful attempt was made to save Kellingley from threatened closure.

Failure to do so would leave Britain even more at the mercy of Russia – and of all those wind turbines that enrage so many people.