York councillors have rejected a highly controversial plan to build four-storey blocks of flats in front of Terry’s former factory.
Members of the planning committee went against their officers’ recommendation and refused the developers’ application to construct 85 apartments off Bishopthorpe Road.
Nearly 300 people had objected to the plans, with many saying the flats were too high and blocked the view to one of York’s great heritage buildings.
And after a three-hour debate, the planning committee agreed.
They voted by nine votes to four to reject the application, on the grounds that the size and the scale of the development was inappropriate, and would harm to the conservation area.
‘A blot on the landscape’
Several objectors spoke to the planning committee.
Celia Loughran, representing the Terry’s of York Planning Action Group, said the proposed buildings would be “a blot on the landscape”.
“It would also detract from its setting in the middle of an important conservation area of York, with its unique collection of nine listed buildings next to the Green Belt.”
Mary Urmston said the “irreversible harm to the conservation area, together with the irreversible harm to the setting of the listed factory” were very strong justifications for rejection.
Johnny Hayes described Terry’s as “one of York’s most important buildings and in my view one of the finest present views in the country” and urged planners to reject the scheme.
Chief executive of York Racecourse William Derby listed many objections, including the four-storey height, and the development’s proximity to the “oldest grandstand on a sporting venue anywhere in the world”.
During the planning committee debate, Cllr Pete Kilbane said he didn’t believe the developers – Henry Boot Developments and Stonebridge Homes – had put forward “a clear and convincing justification that the harm that’s accepted will be done to the heritage asset is overcome by the public benefit.
“To be honest, I’ve heard very little in terms of public benefit from the development at all tonight.”
‘Delighted for York’
Cllr Simon Daubney said he believed it represented an over-development of the site and “harms the setting of a Grade II listed building in both height and setting”.
Cllr Fiona Fitzpatrick said she was “particularly concerned about the effect on the local infrastructure” – including the extra pressures on primary health care and on early years provision for children.
However Cllr Nigel Ayre said there was “much talk about those open views towards the Residence building. They were never there – it was a large industrial complex.
“The only reason those views exist is because that industrial complex was demolished to make way for four-storey office accommodation.”
And he said scaling back the development would mean losing 18 affordable houses “which we desperately need”.
After the meeting, heritage campaigner Johnny Hayes said: “This was a great result this evening.
“I was not convinced that this would be the result and feel delighted for York. This was a dreadful application.”
Green councillor Rosie Baker had also objected to the application.
After the meeting, she told YorkMix: “Residents have been listened to and members voted to reject the developer’s application to build more houses at the Chocolate Works.
“This does not mean they won’t win on appeal or keep applying to build further down on Nun Ings. I will campaign against this to protect existing residents’ quality of life and vital green space.
“Better quality, zero-carbon, homes for life –as well as social housing – are what Green councillors are leading on in York.”