Huge York development would require expansion of city school, new documents reveal
The Government will say whether 970 homes and a school should be built on the outskirts of York, after developers gave up waiting for the city council.
Redrow Homes wants to build the ‘extended village’ over the next ten years, on a 146-acre site just inside the outer ring road, to the west of the Monks Cross Link Road near Huntington.
The plans, which were first revealed by YorkMix in 2017, also include sports pitches, a shop, public open space and a country park on the other side of the Link Road. They could also lead to the expansion of either Huntington School or Joseph Rowntree School, to meet increased demand.
A planning application was submitted in January 2018, but City of York Council has not yet made a decision. Redrow has now asked the national planning inspector to step in and decide the matter instead.
John Handley, managing director for Redrow Yorkshire, told YorkMix: “We have lodged an appeal against non-determination due to lack of progress with York’s local plan.”
The planning inspector has said the developer and council should submit statements by November 22, and has suggested an inquiry be held in January.
The uncertainty has been prolonged due to the delays to York’s crucial Local Plan. That document should serve as a long-term planning blueprint for the city, and should define the city’s Green Belt for the first time, but after years of delays and debates it remains unapproved.
Public inquiry ‘appropriate’
Johnson Mowat, a planning consultancy working for Redrow, said a public inquiry was now appropriate. It said the policy context was “extremely complex and will undoubtedly involve detailed and lengthy legal submissions.”
As well as the Green Belt issue, there is disagreement over planned pedestrian and cycle routes on the site.
In its written appeal statement, the firm said: “There is no local planning authority in England that has a failed plan-making record that comes anywhere close to that of York.”
It said sites to meet family housing needs were “severely restricted” and said there was an immediate need to allow houses to be built.
It said disagreements between Redrow and the council were “minor and reducing” and were likely to be resolved, but said Redrow was nonetheless “still not convinced” the council would decide the application any time soon. It said: “The most appropriate approach is therefore to assess them through the appeal process.”
A City of York Council spokesman said: “The application was originally submitted with the intention that its determination would align with the adoption of the Local Plan. A report will be taken to the November planning committee around this intended appeal.”
The council had not reached the stage of preparing a detailed report on the plans or making a recommendation, but an internal memo between council development officers says “there is no policy objection to the principle of development in this location.”
The memo says that while the site falls within a draft Green Belt from the early 2000s, it falls outside the proposed Green Belt in more recent documents, where it is earmarked as land for development.
The council’s housing department says 30% of the development, if approved, should be affordable housing, which would be 291 homes.
New primary school
An education memo suggests contributions of £16 million from Redrow towards increased school demand, including £7.2 million for a new primary school, £5.1 million to expand either Huntington or Joseph Rowntree secondary schools, and £2.2 million for two new nurseries, one on-site and one elsewhere in the city.
Other contributions are also suggested, towards special education needs support and temporary school accommodation while the new one was built.
Transport consultants on behalf of Redrow have said the development can be accommodated with the existing Hopgrove Roundabout structure, although there is disagreement over whether the plans provide adequate cycling and pedestrian connections to Monks Cross and York in general.
Local councillors had perviously called Redrow’s plans “premature”, saying they should wait until the Local Plan was ratified. Fellow housebuilders Barratt and David Wilson Homes, which have first option on a parcel of land within Redrow’s larger area, have said the council should coordinate a masterplan for the entire site.
Mr Handley for Redrow described the plans as a “garden village style development” and said: “The site forms a key part of Redrow’s growth strategy over the next few years and we will continue to work with the City of York Council to deliver a sustainable development of much-needed family and affordable housing.”