York’s Local Plan needs to include more land for businesses so its economy can continue to grow in the coming years, business leaders have said.
Inspectors have been told that there is not enough land in the council’s projections for employment, with York already suffering from a lack of office space.
Eamonn Keogh, representing York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The economy is growing… We feel, listening to our members, that there’s not enough land for the economy to grow, particularly over the period of the plan.”
York’s Local Plan, first submitted in 2018, outlines where and what housing and employment developments will be built in the city over the next 20 years, and what land is classed as green belt.
Independent inspectors are currently taking evidence about whether the council’s plan is sound.
Charlie Jeffrey, vice-chancellor at the University of York, told the inspectors his institution needed room to grow, adding that it had created 300 jobs per year since 2018.
“We are developing new ideas and new technology for the public good and we need new facilities so we can maximise the benefits to our society,” he said.
Mr Keogh said the university could attract “major inward investment” through its work on fusion power and the bioeconomy.
He said a number of “scattered and small” sites in York were already being used up.
“The chamber doesn’t believe these are suitable for meeting the full needs of the economy going forward,” he said.
Situation ‘isn’t healthy’
Michael Fourcier, representing Fulford Parish Council, said: “There is clearly a trend to home working and the plan shouldn’t ignore that.”
But Mark Goldstone, also from the chamber of commerce, said: “We have some good examples of businesses that have decided ‘we can’t get what we need in York so we’re moving to Leeds or Manchester’ – and that to me isn’t healthy.
“This plan is for 15 years. I think we need to think long term and not get stuck into what’s happening in the next two years and what Covid does.
“From our perspective, we need to have a Local Plan – we need a Local Plan and we need it quickly.”
Scott Lyness QC, for the council, said: “I think the message that’s coming across from the other side of the room is that it underscores the need to actually get the plan adopted.
“We think that the approach to assessing employment needs is adequate and that fundamentally what we’re doing is seeking to unlock new development lands within the city to meet needs, including office space and industrial space, and that’s reflected in the allocations that we’re proposing.”