City of York Council has submitted further information to the Government appointed Planning Inspectors to further support the examination of the city’s Local Plan.
The Local Plan will guide and promote sustainable development in York, and protect the quality of the city's unique and historic identity, whilst simultaneously safeguarding our natural and built environment.
Following a public examination in December 2019, the council was asked to provide further information and detail changes which would address some of the areas highlighted by the Planning Inspectors.
The council has continued to make progress on the Plan, despite the continuing challenges of the pandemic, from significantly reduced capacity in partner organisations (which is essential to the process), to the overall impact on council operations.
The council has published the latest correspondence from the inspector on 18 December and some of the key documentation submitted by the council four days later.
The council will formally respond to the inspector’s letter, along with further detailed explanations, later this week. This response will reiterate that after taking the inspector’s advice to consider withdrawing this draft plan, the council has found that continuing with this public examination is in the best interests of York and its residents.
The latest submission includes the Habitat Regulations Assessment, which assesses the plan’s impact on the important wildlife sites in the city. The council has also submitted a ‘schedule of proposed modifications’, which covers proposed amendments to the plan to respond to the findings of the public examination.
The council has been working on updating the Green Belt Topic Paper Addendum to submit as soon as possible. This will answer the inspector’s questions around the council’s approach to the designation of Green Belt boundaries, in order to guarantee protection for the Green Belt, York’s natural beauty, and the city’s historical character and setting.
Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said:
The Inspector’s recent letter rightly acknowledges the many challenges we have faced during the last year, but despite these considerable challenges, we have still made good progress towards developing a sound Local Plan for York, one which addresses our city’s housing and employment needs, whilst simultaneously protecting York’s Green Belt and unique character.
“I would like to thank the Council’s planning officers and the Government inspectors who have worked hard to progress the plan, particularly throughout these uniquely difficult times.”
On the subject of producing a fresh local plan, Cllr Ayre added:
“Natural England have agreed that the plan and proposed modifications do not pose a risk to our designated nature conservation Areas.
“Whilst reviewing our Green Belt Topic Paper Addendum, we have not found any evidence that our definition of the detailed green belt boundary should be substantially revised and we consider that the Inspectors concerns will be addressed in the forthcoming update.
“As a result, we strongly feel that starting the lengthy and complex Local Plan process again is quite simply, the wrong thing to do; for York’s residents, for a sustainable recovery from the pandemic and, of course, for the city's green belt.”
“It is important for the future development of York that we support a plan that delivers new employment opportunities and addresses the local pressures in our housing market, but at the same time, guarantees protection for the Green Belt and York’s natural beauty. This Local Plan strikes the right balance for the city and our communities and residents.”