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Public inquiry urged on Osbaldwick travellers’ site
FOUR parish councils have called for a public inquiry into controversial plans to expand a York travellers’ site – and have won strong backing from their MP.
Osbaldwick, Murton, Holtby and Heworth Without parishes all claim City of York Council should not be allowed to grant itself planning permission to increase the size of the Osbaldwick site from 12 to 18 pitches, as well as provide horse-grazing land, a play area and an amenity block.
“A public inquiry would allow the full and open consideration of all aspects of the application and, most importantly, would ensure public confidence in the planning process,” they have said in a letter to York Outer Tory MP Julian Sturdy.
They also said York’s draft Local Plan proposed to extend the site, and claimed determination now would be premature and prejudicial to the Plan process, and claimed the extension would be inappropriate development in the green belt.
Mr Sturdy said he supported the parish councils’ demands and claimed there should be no extension until the authority demonstrated it could manage the existing site properly.
He said he was continually contacted by local residents and businesses concerned by crime and large amounts of fly-tipping on land surrounding the site.
He said: “Many residents have expressed to me that they no longer report incidents of crime for fear of retribution.”
But the cabinet’s member for housing, Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, said the MP’s desire for local planning decisions to be taken in London went against his Government’s policy of localism and local decision-making.
“But regardless of where the decision is taken, his Government supports the proposed extension of this site as it has committed to funding it,” she said. “His various attempts to derail the planned extension of this site have no justification or merit whatsoever.”
She invited Mr Sturdy to visit the site, meet the residents he represented and understand their needs and the application before deciding to oppose it.
Mike Slater, assistant director of City and Environmental Services, said planning legislation dictated that applications of this scale and character were normally determined by the local planning authority, regardless of whether it was the applicant.
He said that normally, only applications for large developments of regional or national significance were called in and the “small scale” Osbaldwick application had not currently been called in.