DEVELOPERS are “leapfrogging” York’s Local Plan by getting approval for new homes before the city’s planning blueprint is in place, councillors have claimed.
Members of City of York Council’s planning committee raised their concerns about housebuilders taking advantage of the wait for the Plan – which maps out how York will be developed up to 2030 – to be adopted as controversial proposals for 102 homes on fields in Strensall were given the go—ahead.
If the Plan is ultimately approved by the Government, it will include sites for 22,000 new homes around the city, many on green belt land. The Brecks Lane scheme was granted permission last week on a 9-7 vote, after 122 residents, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, Strensall councillor Paul Doughty and Strensall with Towthorpe Parish Council objected.
York’s currently unofficial green belt will be formalised by the Plan, which the council hopes will be in place by the start of 2015.
Liberal Democrat councillor Ann Reid said the hiatus could be playing into developers’ hands.
She said: “As we do not have a Local Plan, it seems to be open season for anybody wanting to leapfrog it. Developers are perhaps hoping to get planning applications through before a decision on York’s green belt.”
Conservative councillor Joe Watt said approving schemes like the Strensall development would leave residents wondering whether the Local Plan “really matters”.
He said: “We should have more faith in the Local Plan process, and it will only be about a year before we know the result on it.”
Fellow Conservative Coun Ian Gillies said: “It may be that the Local Plan says the Strensall site is fine for development, but it looks like it will be built on a year or more before the Plan’s adoption and it is a case of ‘can we get this through?’”
Martin Grainger, the council’s head of planning and environmental management, said developers and landowners could make planning applications at any time.
He said: “The council can’t control when this happens and have a legal duty to consider the application.
“However, if applications for sites come forward in advance of the Local Plan being approved, it’s important all aspects relating to the sites are fully considered, including any representations from the public during consultation at the preferred options stage of the Plan.
“This is to ensure planning committee are fully aware of all issues when making a decision.”