Warning on green belt after planning inspector’s ruling

A SENIOR councillor last night claimed it was essential a planning blueprint was agreed to safeguard the green belt in York after a planning inspector overturned a decision not to allow a housing development.

Earlier members of York Council had rejected an outline application to build eight homes on draft green belt at Westfield Close, in the city’s Westfield ward but following an appeal a planning inspector has overturned the decision saying the site served no green belt function.

Councillors turned down the application in line with National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) guidance on inappropriate green belt development.

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Yesterday Westfield councillor, Dafydd Williams, said the decision showed the need to get a green belt legally defined in an agreed local plan.

He said: “Clearly this is a disappointing decision and one that the planning inspector has taken his own personal judgment on. It shows that adherence to the Government’s NPPF is not enough, and that without a defined green belt, areas of the city will be open to this type of development.

“The inspector’s decision essentially said that until a local plan is adopted, this type of decision will be at the discretion of a planning inspector based on whether that person thinks a site serves a green belt function, highlighting the importance of concluding the local plan process as quickly as possible.

“The lack of land supply for the number of homes York needs is also placing pressure on the passing of housing development applications in areas where we would not want them to be.”

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However the local plan has proved contentious and a recent consultation provoked a strong response.

Among the most controversial proposals are plans for 22,000 homes, with swathes of green belt land earmarked for construction.

Coun James Alexander, the council’s Labour leader, has said the plan will mean the city will have a permanent defined green belt for the first time.

He earlier said: “The significance of what York’s Local Plan will deliver cannot be underestimated and, without a plan, recent changes in Government legislation would see uncontrolled development across the draft green belt.”