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Council seeks to build on Local plan momentum

Published Friday, 15 January 2021

City of York Council remains committed to its draft Local Plan after clarifying its approach to Green Belt boundaries to government inspectors.

The draft Local Plan sets out where and what types of development can take place in York for the next 20 years. Defining a Green Belt, where special protection limits development, is a vital part of the proposed plan for York and in guaranteeing protecting for York’s unique identity. The plan addresses the challenge of formally defining the boundaries of York’s Green Belt for the first time in its history.

Government inspectors carrying out the examination of the plan had asked the council for additional information particularly around housing numbers, the Green Belt and impact on important wildlife sites.

In a letter to the inspectors, the Council has reiterated that withdrawal of the draft plan would not be in the best interests of York and its residents, due to further cost and delay in delivering the right Local Plan for the city.

The council has today submitted the only outstanding piece of work - an updated Green Belt Topic Paper Addendum - which clarifies the origins and definitions of the boundaries of York's Green Belt. The amendments are summarised in the council's formal response to the inspector's letter of December 18. The council believes it has now addressed the major concerns raised by the inspectors since the earlier Local Plan Examination hearings. This would mean the plan progressing to its next stage, which could include further public consultation over the recently submitted information.

The council has continued to make progress on the Plan, despite the unforeseeable and continued challenges of the pandemic, from significantly reduced capacity in partner organisations to the overall impact on council operations.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said:

This has been an exceptionally challenging year. 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 opportunity to demonstrate how our draft plan ensures that York gets the housing and jobs residents need, whilst at the same time, protecting the city's unique character, green belt and natural beauty."

"York’s Green Belt boundaries have never formally been defined and this was always going to be an area of significant interest locally and nationally. Through the iteration of the plan, members from all parties have contributed to this process and we believe the current submission provides the detailed evidence of how we have sought to achieve this."

"We've made it clear that we strongly feel that starting the lengthy and costly 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."

"With these recent submissions, we have real momentum and hope to work with the inspectors to take this plan forward."

The latest submission follows the Habitat Regulations Assessment, submitted just before Christmas, which assesses the plan’s impact on the important wildlife sites in the city. This was accompanied by a ‘schedule of proposed modifications’, which covers proposed amendments to the plan to respond to the findings of the public examination.