WITH the consultation over access to one of York’s two huge city-centre brownfield sites - York Central - drawing towards a close, there are finally encouraging signs of progress on the other.

Proposals to redevelop the British Sugar site have been stuck in the planning process since 2014.

City of York Council actually faced the possibility of two expensive appeals over its failure to determine two planning applications relating to the site; one British Sugar’s proposal for land decontamination, the other the company’s outline application to build more than 1,100 homes.

The council’s planning committee will meet on Thursday, when it is expected to approve British Sugar’s decontamination proposals. If that happens, one appeal at least will no longer go ahead.

That would be excellent news. Planning appeals are expensive. The last thing a cash-strapped local authority needs is to be spending money on legal representation at a hearing that could drag on.

Approval of the decontamination proposals would also bring the redevelopment of the site a step closer - an important consideration, given York’s desperate shortage of affordable housing. And it would be a sign, hopefully, that discussions going on behind the scenes between British Sugar and the council over the other application, for outline approval to build homes, were also making progress.

There is one important rider here, however. It is vital that the British Sugar land should be properly decontaminated. However much pressure there may be on them, planners should only approve the decontamination proposals if they are genuinely satisfied that they are acceptable.