New consultation on York’s Green Belt planned – as Local Plan saga rumbles on

A fresh consultation on York’s Green Belt boundaries will be launched.

It is part of City of York Council’s bid to finalise a Local Plan – the document that determines where and how much housing or business space can be built at development sites across the city over the next 20 years.

Last month government inspectors suggested the council to drop the Local Plan and start again.

After councillors rejected that idea, the inspectors have asked for fresh hearings into the Green Belt proposals, most likely in late May or early June.

These hearings will consider issues including the number of homes that need to be built in York and the areas the council would like to be designated as Green Belt.

Councillor Nigel Ayre said: “This has been an exceptionally challenging year and I would like to thank the council’s planning officers and government inspectors who’ve managed to progress this plan despite difficult circumstances.

“We welcome the feedback from the inspectors today.

“Further work will now be carried out in order to help progress the plan to the next stage of the hearings and to demonstrate how our draft plan ensures that York gets the housing and jobs our city needs, whilst at the same time, protecting York’s unique character, green belt and natural beauty.

“It is incredibly important that we continue to build on and working with the inspectors, take this plan forward.”

‘Beset by problems’

But Labour group councillor Claire Douglas said after seven years and a cost of around £2 million, the Local Plan is “as far away from approval as it was in 2014”.

She said: “The plan is beset by problems of continual political tweaks and changes, and some of the evidence base is now so out of date the Government appears unlikely to accept it.”

She hit out at the council for approving plans to cut the role of the most senior council officer responsible for the Local Plan, which were decided in December.