Plan for 500 houses would ‘protect Askham Bog for future generations’ – the claim as development goes to planning inquiry

Sir David Attenborough visiting Askham Bog. Photograph: Tom Marshall

Plans to build more than 500 houses near a nature reserve will go to a three-week inquiry after being rejected by City of York Council.

Councillors unanimously rejected the scheme by Barwood Land at Moor Lane after environmentalists said the development would prove disastrous to Askham Bog.

The bog is a nature reserve run by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Sir David Attenborough criticised the development plans and 7,600 people objected to the scheme.

But as Barwood prepares its appeal it said the scheme would “help solve York’s ongoing housing crisis” and that there have been “unacceptable delays” to City of York Council’s Local Plan – which outlines where new homes will be built across the city.

And they said the scheme was refused because of “political sensitivities”.

Environmentally sustainable

Where the land lies. Photograph © Google Street View
York’s planners turned down the application in July – with the committee saying it had concerns about the impact on the bog as well as transport, health services and schools in the area.

But Barwood has appealed the decision and a three-week planning inquiry will start on November 12.

Jamie Gibbins, the company’s managing director, said:

  • With an urgent need for new homes and amenities, there continues to be unacceptable delays in the production of York’s Local Plan. York has not had an adopted development plan since the 1950s.

    The proposed development of land at Moor Lane presents an excellent opportunity to help address York’s acute housing needs, in particular, in an environmentally sustainable way.

He said he is confident the plans are “technically robust” and will protect the bog “for future generations”.

Political sensitivities

Ancient greenery… Askham Bog. Photograph © Johnson Cameraface on Flickr
Mr Gibbins blamed “political sensitivities” for the decision.

He said: “Owing to the political sensitivities, primarily in relation to Askham Bog, the council’s decision to refuse planning permission was unfortunately inevitable and the submission of a planning appeal will enable the evidence on this matter to be properly considered by an independent Planning Inspector.”

Cllr Stephen Fenton, who campaigned against the plan, said:

  • Thousands of residents in Dringhouses and Woodthorpe have been clear in their opposition at every stage to this inappropriate development, and I am disappointed that the developer has opted to appeal the unanimous decision to refuse their application.

    Local Lib Dem councillors will continue to fight this unwanted development until it no longer poses a threat to Askham Bog or our local infrastructure, and I know many local residents feel the same.