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City of York Council signs up to 'right to grow' house building policy
YORK’S Labour-controlled council has signed up to the national party’s housing plans which could see neighbouring councils forced to release land for York housing projects.
York, along with Labour-controlled councils in Stevenage, Oxford and Luton, would be labelled a “right to grow” council under a Labour government, Ed Miliband announced yesterday.
But the scheme has been criticised by both national and local Conservative parties, who have dismissed it as political grandstanding.
York council leader James Alexander said: “This is an acknowledgement that York needs more homes and we are in the driving seat of the national Labour party agenda.”
Nationally, the Labour party has launched an independent housing commission, led by former BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons, which York council will be working with.
Coun Alexander welcomed plans for a “use it or lose it” scheme announced by Ed Miliband in June, which would give councils greater powers over “land banking” developers who do not build on land they own and have planning permission on.
He said York has worked with private-sector developers and has seen progress on brownfield sites, but there are times when councils need to ensure developers deliver homes.
Coun Alexander added: “City of York Council has a good working relationship with neighbouring Conservative authorities and we work in partnership to deliver jobs and homes for all our residents but there is significant opposition in York from Conservative and Liberal Democrats who do not want to see Labour deliver new homes over the long term for short-term political advantage.
“But we cannot have a situation where we cannot provide homes in York and the neighbouring authorities are not providing them either.”
Opposition Tory councillors in York have criticised the scheme.
Conservative leader Ian Gillies said: “We don’t believe York residents will be impressed that the leader of the opposition party has announced that their city has a “right” to grow, nor that our attention-seeking council leader has eagerly volunteered York for more party political publicity.
“Conservatives stand for bringing residents into the planning process for new homes and ensuring they have a say in what happens in their localities, unlike the Labour Party who merely wish to bully people into accepting whatever Labour think is good for them. We want new houses, but we want democracy too.”
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