A YORK MP said it was “disappointing, but hardly a surprise” after the Government failed to call in a £650m mixed use scheme in her constituency which she claims will not help those on low wages and struggling to afford a home.
The York Central Scheme is set to bring in 2,500 homes and 86,600 square metres of office space to an area behind the city’s railway station, which is one of the largest city centre brownfield sites in the UK.
However York Central MP Rachael Maskell said it would end up as high-rise luxury apartments rather than homes for people to buy and rent at “genuinely affordable” levels.
She has previously described York as “one of the UK’s most unequal cities”, struggling with a low-wage economy.
In April the Yorkshire Post revealed that two Yorkshire council leaders, Wakefield’s Peter Box and Bradford’s Susan Hinchcliffe, were lobbying Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, amid fears that delays may be putting £77m Government funding for the scheme at risk.
David Kerfoot, who chairs the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership, also urged the Conservative Minister “not to call in the decision for further consideration as a matter of urgency”.
Ms Maskell said the Tories were "intent on using the most important development site in York’s history for stacking high-rise, luxury apartments rather than maximising the benefits that significant economic investment will bring to York in the long-term.
“We urgently need to invest in higher wage, high quality careers to give hope to everyone in York and to move away from low wage, insecure work.
“The plans also fail to deliver the homes that all evidence highlights are needed for people to rent and buy at genuinely affordable levels.”
However Lib Dem council leader Keith Aspden said it was "welcome news" and insisted the scheme was a “major opportunity to build new affordable homes, attract better paid jobs, deliver new public spaces and create sustainable transport links for the city.”
They would continue to work with partners, including Homes England and Network Rail,to make the city “an even better place to live, work and spend time.”
The Green Party, which is in a coalition with the Lib Dems, had asked the Minister to call in the decision, raising concerns over the high level of car ownership the plans presumed.
They said plans could be developed that would meet peoples' needs based on minimal car usage, which would reduce emissions, accidents and make a better space for community.