IN York we have seen first-hand how central Government’s thirst for profit from public land has been allowed to over-ride the urgent local need for a more balanced economy, better quality jobs and houses local people can afford to live in.
Looking back at our history, Joseph Rowntree and others recognised the importance of building a humane city.
Imphal Barracks, York Central, Lendal Post Office and Bootham Park Hospital are all opportunities for us to achieve this here and now, but they are being passed up by the Government who instead are allowing developers to maximise profits by cramming the expensive luxury flats into the heart of our city.
We have been left watching our local authority on a collision course with these big government departments and quangos who, rather than helping our council shape a new sustainable future, are quietly and efficiently sucking the profit from the land and back to their central government departments.
We know that few people in York have the resources to buy these expensive flats and instead families are being pushed further and further and further away from our city.
Not only does this do little to enhance our way of life, it is fuelling an affordability crisis, hollowing out our communities and putting a greater strain on our environment and overstretched public services.
We are now in the highly precarious situation where many of the very people we rely on to run our precious public services can no longer afford to live here.
In all of this the voice of the community is being completely ignored as the sites continue to be sold off.
People in the city are rightly angry, as the city gains nothing and they lose out on jobs, services and even a home.
This situation cannot be allowed to continue.
Public land is precious and must be used for long-term public good and not the short-term pursuit of profit to the community’s detriment.
As with playing fields, planning regulations must be updated to protect our public assets.
This is why I am calling for the introduction of a new Public Good Test that will require any proposed development on our precious public land to have a clear, demonstrable and long-term positive public benefit.
When it’s gone it’s gone, and unforgivably for many parts of York it already is too late.