Government inspector criticises York’s landmark planning strategy

THE landmark planning vision drawn up by city leaders for the future of York has been heavily criticised by an independent inspector, who says it could render huge housing proposals unviable.

Planning official David Vickery said City of York Council’s “core strategy”, a legal Government requirement, had numerous shortcomings, giving cause for “significant concerns”.

He questioned whether some residential developments would be viable at all, once additional costs such as affordable housing and transport works were factored in.

A public meeting has now been called for next month to discuss the issues raised.

The council’s document sets out plans for 16,000 new homes.

But Mr Vickery said the council had wrongly counted on unspecified “windfall” sites, such as industrial land, becoming available for housing, and said it had failed to adequately specify where almost a third of the new homes would go.

He said it was unclear whether the document complied with legal requirements and said he was concerned that:

• Of the 16,000 proposed dwellings, thousands do not have a specified location

• The strategy takes account of windfalls in the first ten years, but Government policy says this should not be done unless there is compelling evidence of genuine local circumstances that prevent specific sites being identified

• The policy fails to identify where, when and how the new swimming pool and community stadium would be provided

• The strategy does not seem to deal adequately with waste disposal.

He said locations for the extra homes should be clarified as a “vital strategic matter”, and also questioned whether developments would be viable after additional costs were included – such as requirements for affordable housing, sustainable construction, road schemes, renewable energy and green infrastructure.

He said: “I have not seen any evidence which shows that development would be deliverable when taking account of these additional costs requirements, together with the normal cost of development and on-site mitigation.

“Would there still be acceptable returns to a willing land owner and willing developer?

“I am concerned that there is no overall assessment of viability which justifies the affordable housing or renewable energy and sustainable construction policies.”

Mr Vickers’ comments were in a letter to people who had commented on the draft strategy, such as developers.

He was appointed to consider the council’s submitted strategy, which will guide development over the next two decades.

He said that from his initial reading of the strategy, he had “significant concerns regarding its compliance with the legal requirements and its potential soundness”.

An “exploratory meeting” will be held on April 23, when the council will have an opportunity to provide clarification and suggest how the inspector’s concerns might be addressed.

Richard Wood, the council’s assistant director of strategic planning and transport, said the inspector’s role was to examine the soundness of York’s plan.

He said: “Concerns have been raised by the inspector and we will be providing further information on these issues, which is normal practice. At this stage, the inspector has not yet reached any definite conclusions.

“The city faces complex planning challenges during a time when the national planning system is changing.

Early meetings are used in the planning process so that all parties can work constructively together to test and improve the plan. The council will be providing information to the inspector and at the public meeting.”

Developer John Reeves, of the Helmsley Group, said: “To date, developers’ protestations have been largely ignored by the council, but it seems someone independent [Mr Vickers] potentially thinks the same. Something has to give and that has to be a further loosening of affordable policies, as today’s targets are just not viable for developers and we need homes.”

Paul Cordock, a quantity surveyor and persistent critic of the council’s affordable housing policies, said: “Our concerns and criticisms have been vindicated.”

Comments (9)

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11:48am Wed 14 Mar 12

Candy Cupcake says...

What about Beckfield Lane tip? I wonder if that will be used for affordable social housing or just be sold off to property developers. .. its a valid question. x
What about Beckfield Lane tip? I wonder if that will be used for affordable social housing or just be sold off to property developers. .. its a valid question. x Candy Cupcake

12:37pm Wed 14 Mar 12

retribution says...

Typical whinging from
get-as rich-as-possible-as-
quickly-as-possible developers...and sod the councillors/public
Typical whinging from get-as rich-as-possible-as- quickly-as-possible developers...and sod the councillors/public retribution

1:03pm Wed 14 Mar 12

Mr Crabtree says...

retribution wrote:
Typical whinging from get-as rich-as-possible-as- quickly-as-possible developers...and sod the councillors/public
Like the officers and councillors behind the flawed Core Strategy, you fail.

Failure to appreciate that the system of forcing costly, crippling regulatory burdens such as affordable housing on developers makes housebuilding unviable.
Failure to acknowledge that the Planning Inspector shares the same opinions and concerns of the professionals who actually have to build the houses.
This all goes to prove that punitive, discriminatory, left-wing, ideologically-driven policies are a failure.

It's time that the government came down hard on non-compliant Councils, and those responsible for the damage that their policies have caused to York's economy should lose their jobs.
[quote][p][bold]retribution[/bold] wrote: Typical whinging from get-as rich-as-possible-as- quickly-as-possible developers...and sod the councillors/public[/p][/quote]Like the officers and councillors behind the flawed Core Strategy, you fail. Failure to appreciate that the system of forcing costly, crippling regulatory burdens such as affordable housing on developers makes housebuilding unviable. Failure to acknowledge that the Planning Inspector shares the same opinions and concerns of the professionals who actually have to build the houses. This all goes to prove that punitive, discriminatory, left-wing, ideologically-driven policies are a failure. It's time that the government came down hard on non-compliant Councils, and those responsible for the damage that their policies have caused to York's economy should lose their jobs. Mr Crabtree

1:07pm Wed 14 Mar 12

highhat says...

I have been following this saga with inputs from Mr Laverack and others for some time.
It seems to me that Mr Laveracks arguments and comments have been vindicated entireley by Mr Vickery and paints our council officers in a very poor light. Hopefully now common sense will prevail and York builders will be able to get back to work.
I note also the interesting timing of Bill Wooleys retirement.
I predict there could be a few more soon.
I have been following this saga with inputs from Mr Laverack and others for some time. It seems to me that Mr Laveracks arguments and comments have been vindicated entireley by Mr Vickery and paints our council officers in a very poor light. Hopefully now common sense will prevail and York builders will be able to get back to work. I note also the interesting timing of Bill Wooleys retirement. I predict there could be a few more soon. highhat

1:07pm Wed 14 Mar 12

Mr Crabtree says...

Perhaps the doubting football supporters will now believe what we have been telling them about the value of Bootham Crescent ?
Perhaps the doubting football supporters will now believe what we have been telling them about the value of Bootham Crescent ? Mr Crabtree

1:15pm Wed 14 Mar 12

Mr Crabtree says...

Yes, Mr Laverack and his colleagues have at last been vindicated.

They were right all along, but, certain councillors did all they could to discredit and vilify them - those councillors should now make a public unreserved apology...... we are waiting !
Yes, Mr Laverack and his colleagues have at last been vindicated. They were right all along, but, certain councillors did all they could to discredit and vilify them - those councillors should now make a public unreserved apology...... we are waiting ! Mr Crabtree

3:02pm Wed 14 Mar 12

mickrick says...

Well done Mr Laverack,Paul Cordock and John Jones.
At last the truth has been established and not only have the council officers and councillors been found wanting but guilty of a gross negligence and cheating. They have put political dogma and spin before the needs of the people they pupport to represent.
Tracie you and your chums are in for a good caning at that public meeting. You could allways do a Bob Wooley and do a runner fast. Things are going to get very difficult for you now.
Well done Mr Laverack,Paul Cordock and John Jones. At last the truth has been established and not only have the council officers and councillors been found wanting but guilty of a gross negligence and cheating. They have put political dogma and spin before the needs of the people they pupport to represent. Tracie you and your chums are in for a good caning at that public meeting. You could allways do a Bob Wooley and do a runner fast. Things are going to get very difficult for you now. mickrick

5:39pm Wed 14 Mar 12

cynic3 says...

Also, and linked, the policy on student housing (sorry HMOs!) may not be as clear cut as some wish. http://apyork.com/la
ndlord_info/change-t
o-planning-law-for-h
mos.htm
Also, and linked, the policy on student housing (sorry HMOs!) may not be as clear cut as some wish. http://apyork.com/la ndlord_info/change-t o-planning-law-for-h mos.htm cynic3

9:33am Thu 15 Mar 12

meme says...

Retribution you fail to see the bigger picture
Wealth creation/homes and business premises are what keeps York prosperous in terms of wages and employment as well as decent housing.
If these are not built unemployment and spiraling house prices due to lack of supply results which is bad for everyone.
CoYC have had years to sort this out yet they persist in policies which are incorrect and doomed to failure due to Political dogma and frankly its a disgrace.
we all want a fairer society but making it fairer by making everyone poorer is not the way forward
More importantly given the time York have worked on this document its a disgrace that its full of huge holes which are there because of political interference and the views of supposed impartial officers.Frankly its disgraceful and it needs exposing
Retribution you fail to see the bigger picture Wealth creation/homes and business premises are what keeps York prosperous in terms of wages and employment as well as decent housing. If these are not built unemployment and spiraling house prices due to lack of supply results which is bad for everyone. CoYC have had years to sort this out [more than 10] yet they persist in policies which are incorrect and doomed to failure due to Political dogma and frankly its a disgrace. we all want a fairer society but making it fairer by making everyone poorer is not the way forward More importantly given the time York have worked on this document its a disgrace that its full of huge holes which are there because of political interference and the views of supposed impartial officers.Frankly its disgraceful and it needs exposing meme

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