U-turn could slash number of homes to be built in York

Thousands of new homes are proposed for YorkThousands of new homes are proposed for York
Thousands of new homes are proposed for York
A dramatic U-turn is being proposed by a council putting together a controversial planning blueprint which could see the number of homes earmarked for York to meet future housing needs reduced by 5,000.

Members of York Council are in the process of putting together its local plan which will shape future development including jobs, housing and transport, over the next 15 years and beyond. Its draft plans to build 22,000 homes have sparked huge concerns with fears raised that there were not enough roads and schools in place to cope and worries that villages and areas in the outskirts of the city would be swamped with homes.

A consultation on its draft plans received 14,000 responses – the biggest ever single response to public talks the authority has received.

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Coun James Alexander, the leader of York Council, told a Press conference yesterday it now planned to build 17,000 homes.

“We want to see more homes being built but it is important this is done in a careful way,” he said.

However, the Press conference heard the city lacks suitable brownfield sites and while efforts are being made to use those available, 80 per cent of homes would be built on green field sites.

Coun Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, said: “The new proposals still involve an unprecedented attempt to bulldoze York’s Green Belt against the wishes of local residents. Labour need to rip-up the whole plan and start again with a genuine conversation with residents and all political parties.

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“The Liberal Democrats believe that development should focus on derelict brownfield sites first before the countryside surrounding York is touched.”

Members of the council’s cabinet will meet on Monday, September 22 to decide whether to back the latest proposals, which include some new sites. If backed, public talks would follow.

Initial proposals for the planning document had to be aborted earlier after grave doubts were raised over its “potential soundness”.

In total 67 sites have been identified for housing across the city over the next 15 years. This includes new potential gipsy and traveller sites including Moor Lane/B1224 and Acres Farm, Naburn.

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Whinthorpe, in the south east of York, which could see around 6,000 new homes built over the next 25 years and Clifton Gate, north of Clifton Moor, which could see 2,800 new homes built remain earmarked as being suitable for development.

The council is proposing to create – for the first time in York’s history – a permanent Green Belt to protect the city’s boundaries.

Coun Alexander said it was vital the city provided affordable homes for its citizens who are increasingly being priced out of the local housing market and said a local plan would help it safeguard sites it wanted to protect.

He also told the Press conference there was a need to ensure the city had enough quality office space to ensure it meets the needs of business and support growth.

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The proposals suggest over 13,500 jobs can be created over the plan’s lifetime.

This week the ruling Labour group lost its majority on the council when Coun Helen Douglas defected to the Conservatives. Green leader Andy D’Agorne has expressed a desire to see fewer houses built.

He said his party was open to discussions adding: “All we are saying is that we are not closing the door with either camp, as it were.”