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York Civic Trust's fear at blueprint loss
AN ORGANISATION which protects York’s heritage has hit out at council bosses for scrapping a landmark planning blueprint – saying the decision risks leaving the city “exposed and vulnerable”.
City of York Council abandoned its Local Development Framework (LDF) core strategy, which maps out how York will be developed over the next 20 years, following criticism from a Government inspector and approval for three superstores alongside a community stadium at Monks Cross.
The authority, which said changes in Government planning policy had also forced the move, had spent £1.1 million on the document in the space of six years and a Local Plan which is set to replace it is unlikely to be in place until at least the end of 2014.
It has now asked businesses, developers and landowners to send in details of sites they own so they can be included in the new strategy, which will include a list of key locations for possible development.
But in its annual report, York Civic Trust criticised the LDF’s abandonment, saying it was “unprecedented” and could pave the way for more out-of-town shopping schemes, and warning that the council now had to work fast to restore public faith in the process.
The trust was one of the leading opponents of the plans for new John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Next stores at Monks Cross, saying they would harm the city centre.
The report said the trust was “dismayed” at the withdrawal of the strategy after it cost more than £1 million and “countless hours of effort by officers, consultees and the general public”.
It said: “Many retail experts say York’s decision to withdraw the LDF in such a way is unprecedented and leaves the city exposed and vulnerable to more out-of-town retail developments in green belt locations.
“There are difficult times ahead, but what is absolutely clear is that this lacuna must be filled as soon as possible. If anything is to be reclaimed from this situation, it must be done quickly to restore confidence among council staff and generate support from the local community.”
The trust also said it was “committed” to working with the council over a new plan, but there could be “no delay”.