Plans to build 300 homes on green belt land in York are to go ahead, sparking anger among local councillors – and fears that it leaves other areas vulnerable.
The government has approved the highly controversial development between New Lane and the LNER Community Stadium in Huntington.
Developers Barratt David Wilson Homes took their plans to build a 300-home estate on the site to a public inquiry after City of York Council failed to determine the application.
The inquiry inspector recommended that the plan be given the go-ahead – a decision which was endorsed by the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, this week.
It means the homes will now be built, despite being on land earmarked as green belt in the draft local plan, the council being opposed, and nearly 150 objections from residents.
However, Mr Gove agreed with the inspector that the green belt boundary assigned in York’s draft local plan “carries very little weight”
Liberal Democrat councillors for Huntington and New Earswick condemned the decision.
Cllr Keith Orrell said: “This is devastating news for local residents who almost unanimously opposed this development.
“The Conservative government has ignored local residents, ignored local councillors, ignored the draft local plan and ignored the Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan when deciding to approve the 300 new houses.
“And Labour are complicit in this decision – Labour councillors voted for the application at the planning committee.
“Mr Gove has also treated local residents with contempt. He could have made this decision over a year ago but has kept local residents waiting hoping for the correct decision.”
Cllr Carol Runciman said : “Residents are not opposed to building new homes. The people of Huntington supported the building of 970 new homes on Monks Cross Link Road.
“The draft local plan allows us to manage the local infrastructure at the same time as delivering the homes York needs.
“These large applications that fall outside the local plan, without the support of the local community only add to the pressures we see on school places, dentists and GP appointments.”
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for York Outer, Andrew Hollyer, added: “This decision goes against the Local Plan that has been worked up according to Government requirements. It means that any green land across York is now in danger of development.
“The north of York has seen several significant housing applications and approvals recently, including 1,300 now in Huntington, 800 in Haxby & 1,300 north of Clifton Moor.
“However, what we don’t see alongside these applications is sufficient consideration of and investment in transport infrastructure, school places, dentists and GP appointments.”
Cllr Michael Pavlovic, executive member for housing, planning and safer communities, said: “The council is very disappointed by the judgement of the government in approving this application.
“It was argued robustly that this proposal was inappropriate, that it was not in the draft local plan and would impact negatively on the village setting of Huntington if approved.
“Speculative sites not in the local plan will continue to be recommended for refusal unless they demonstrate exceptional circumstances as outlined under national planning policy.
“The council’s brownfield first policy stands and the sooner we get a local plan adopted the sooner we will stop being at the mercy of surprise decisions by government ministers like this one.
“Had the local plan submitted over five years ago been sound, it would now be adopted and this decision on the New Lane development would not have been possible.”