Campaigners have achieved ‘a welcome victory over the might of developers’ after plans for a retirement accommodation block on the former Terry’s Chocolate factory site were thrown out.
A government planning inspector backed City of York Council and refused an appeal by the developers, saying the proposed building would have been an “alien feature” on Bishopthorpe Road.
McCarthy and Stone Retirement Lifestyles and Henry Boot Developments first submitted the plans in 2020, but later chose to take their case to a public inquiry because they said the council was unable to give them a timeframe for a decision.
They wanted to build 70 apartments on the land, which is currently a car park, as well as a residents lounge, bistro, laundry room and a new car park area.
The council, campaigners and Micklegate’s Labour councillors argued that the building was a poor design and would not fit in with the surrounding area.
Local health bosses feared its residents would heap more pressure on already stretched GP services, though inspector Ken Taylor said there was not enough evidence to support this claim.
Bishopthorpe Road resident Joe Leigh said the proposal was an “awful building in the wrong location” during the planning inquiry last year.
The site has been allocated for approximately 33 homes in York’s draft Local Plan.
The developer said there was a “compelling need for additional specialist retirement accommodation for the elderly in York”.
‘Good design is key’
Mr Taylor issued his final report this week, refusing the appeal.
He wrote: “The benefits of meeting a need for specialist housing for older people and the use of previously developed land both individually carry significant weight. Some very modest economic benefits would also arise.
“However, the creation of high quality, beautiful buildings and places is fundamental to the planning system and good design is a key aspect of sustainable development. The harm
that would arise to the character and appearance of the area would be very significant.”
Micklegate councillor Pete Kilbane said: “I’m relieved the inspectors dismissed this speculative application and supported the council and grassroots campaigners who have achieved a welcome victory over the might of developers.”
He thanked council officers and residents for “standing up” to the developers.
Last year, Cllr Kilbane said bringing the case before an inquiry was a “tactical move” by the developer for an application that “in the normal way of the world, wouldn’t make it to a planning committee”.
He added this week: “We look forward to the next application which we presume will, this time, be in accordance with the draft local plan allocation for the site.”