Future of York planning forum in doubt: can you help?

13 Jul 2014 @ 5.37 pm
| Environment
The former Terry’s factory: its redevelopment was discussed by York Open Planning Forum. Photograph © Vincej on Wikipedia

There will be a special general meeting of the York Open Planning Forum (YOPF) at 7pm on Wednesday, July 16, in the York CVS Priory Street Centre. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the future of the forum.

YOPF was set up in 2002 in the wake of the protracted Coppergate Planning Inquiry when it was realised that there was no forum in York in which major developments with city-wide implications could be discussed.

Its purpose was to foster a better understanding of planning matters that affect the whole Local Authority area rather than just the city centre.

It has been an independent and self sufficient body, funded through the subscriptions of its members and receiving no financial assistance from any outside source.

Over the years YOPF has held open meetings on a wide range of planning related matters including the abandoned Local Development Framework and major development schemes like early stages of York Central, Hungate and Terry’s.

Its membership has been made up of individuals and organisations with an interest in the environment, and has included representatives from most parish councils and ward planning panels.

Planning delays

Its lasting achievement has been the creation of the Local List of heritage assets for York, buildings and places which are valued by local communities but which are not eligible for statutory listing.

This still awaits adoption by the council as one of the supporting documents of the emerging Local Plan.

Recently, for a number of reasons, it has become increasingly difficult to keep the forum going.

Firstly, with the issue of the National Planning Policy Framework, the planning climate has changed considerably since its inception.

The passage of time as well as economic circumstances have delayed or halted progress on most of the major development schemes formerly in the pipeline.

Two years or so ago the Local Development Framework was found to be unsound by the Government Planning Inspector and abandoned.

Finally, despite several appeals for new volunteers to take the forum forward, none have been forthcoming. Four members of the committee have served in one capacity or another for the ten years since the Forum was set up.

This is not a desirable situation and new blood and fresh enthusiasm are needed.

Three options

It therefore seems to us that there are three options for the future of YOPF.

The first is that it should wind itself up and cease to exist.

The second is that it should be relaunched with new blood and fresh energy taking over if new committee members and officers can be recruited.

The third option is for YOPF to merge with the York Environment Forum, founded shortly after YOPF and of which YOPF was a constituent member until it became impossible for anyone from YOPF to attend their meetings.

The principal purpose of York Environment Forum is to scrutinise and monitor the development and implementation of the emerging Local Plan.

It is hoped this special general meeting will generate fruitful discussion about which of the three options should be pursued.

It might perhaps finally elicit some offers of involvement which would ensure the Forum’s continued existence.

It is not necessary to be a current member of YOPF to attend the meeting and anyone who has an interest in its purpose and its survival is invited to come along.

Anyone who would like to make a contribution to the discussion but is unable to attend on July 16 is welcome to contact the chair, Jason Rose, at [email protected] or on 07866 077749.