OWNERS of sites earmarked for possible development in York’s draft planning vision have already come forward to discuss their potential for early delivery with council officials.
Liberal Democrat councillors claim the “revelation”, contained in a report to City of York Council’s Corporate and Scrutiny Management Committee, raised concerns that controversial housing plans in York were being given the green light before residents’ views had been properly considered.
But the comments were dismissed by a senior Labour councillor, Tracey Simpson-Laing, who said Labour was serious about delivering new homes when the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives simply opposed.
Lib Dem Coun Keith Orrell said the consultation on the draft Local Plan received a record number of responses last year.
He said: “Thousands of residents took time to study the proposals and write comments or sign petitions.
“The plans met with huge public opposition and legitimate questions were raised about the loss of green belt land and the impact the developments would have on local infrastructure.
“Instead of addressing these issues, it appears the council is prejudging the outcome of the Local Plan process and openly discussing early delivery of earmarked sites with developers. This is before the public comments on the sites have been fully published or the issues raised addressed. It is also before the final plan has been unveiled yet alone approved by government.”
Colleague Carol Runciman said the council should follow correct procedure and demonstrate it was taking on board public responses and, where necessary, amend the plans, in particular the proposals to use green belt land.
But Coun Simpson-Laing, Labour’s deputy council leader and Cabinet member for housing, said: “On the same day the Conservative Liberal Democrat Government says they are reducing the need for environmental assessments to speed up the delivery of homes, the opposition in York are accusing Labour of being too fast.
“It is an ironic stance the Lib Dems in York are taking, considering the Government are saying there should always be a presumption in favour of development.”
“Labour’s proposals would see an additional 1.8 per cent of green land used for homes and employment than the previous Conservative supported Lib Dem plan.”