Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Julian Sturdy’s fears over green belt is just ‘politicking’ says Coun Dave Merrett
COUNCIL chiefs have been accused by a York MP of putting the city’s Green Belt at risk by moving at “glacial pace” over a blueprint for the city’s future.
Julian Sturdy, who represents York Outer, claims City of York Council’s lack of a “Local Plan”, mapping out how the city will be developed over the coming decades, has left green spaces around the city vulnerable to developers.
Mr Sturdy said the delay means the city will need “special treatment” from the Government.
The authority’s cabinet will next week be advised to instruct officials to start work on the plan following the abandonment this summer of the original Local Development Framework core strategy, on which about £1.1 million was spent in the space of six years.
Mr Sturdy said it would now be down to the Government to protect the city’s Green Belt through an eight-week consultation on regional planning strategies. He said: “Like many residents, I am concerned the council is moving at such a glacial pace when drawing up the required plans to defend our Green Belt.
“The failure to adopt a strong Local Plan is a direct failure to champion York’s green areas. “Without adequate protection, developers are sure to leap at the opportunity to undermine York’s Green Belt, something which simply cannot be allowed to happen.
“I urge all residents to contribute to the Government consultation and ensure our Green Belt is protected until the council resolve their Local Plan.”
Coun Dave Merrett, the council’s cabinet member for planning issues, hit back, saying the Government’s “rush” to abolish the regional spatial strategy, which currently protects Green Belt land, was responsible for having left open spaces in a “precarious position”.
He said: “Mr Sturdy should look to his own Government before criticising the council over York’s Green Belt.
“His own planning minister, Nick Boles, told council leader James Alexander last week that he was seeking ways to protect it and wanted his view on how this should be done.
“This is blatant politicking from Julian Sturdy and that is all it will be seen as.”
Coun Merrett said Government planning policy changes had left other councils in a similar position to York and he wanted to see Westminster politicians “exercise some common sense” and “prevent a developer free-for-all” in York until the new Local Plan was in place.
York’s core strategy was scrapped earlier this year after being criticised by a Government inspector and following approval for a community stadium and three new superstores at Monks Cross.