PLANS for a new town near York have come under fire at a public meeting.

About 50 residents gathered at Heslington Parish Church to discuss proposals in City of York Council’s draft Local Plan to allocate 450 acres of greenbelt land alongside the A64 for a 5,500-home settlement dubbed Whinthorpe.

Villagers and York Outer MP Julian Sturdy claimed such a development would put immense pressure on the local infrastructure, such as roads, drainage systems and schools.

Mr Sturdy said the impact would be felt in communities across the area, including Fulford, Elvington and Dunnington.

He also joined villagers in slating the council’s public consultation, which has just been launched.

Residents claimed the eight week period was insufficient to examine and rebut the plans, and complained there was no drop-in exhibition planned in Heslington, despite its close proximity to a development which would be as big as Tadcaster.

Mr Sturdy claimed key information was being withheld and accused the authority of adopting a “smoke and mirrors” approach.

But the council’s cabinet member for planning, Coun Dave Merrett, told The Press that details of the Local Plan consultation had been circulated to every home in York, including details of where residents could find extensive supporting information.

“The consultation lasts for two months, giving ample opportunity for everyone to have their say,” he claimed. “The plan envisages that necessary infrastructure will be delivered through the terms of any agreed development.

“I urge residents and the MP for York Outer to look through the consultation documentation thoroughly, as I’m confident this will address any existing concerns they have.

“Alternatively, they are welcome to contact council officers or myself with any questions they have.”

A council spokeswoman said it was encouraging all York residents and businesses to take part in the consultation before July 31.

“Alternatively, questions and comments can be fed back by emailing, or by calling (01904 552255),” she said.

For more information, people should visit or view the Local Plan draft document and accompanying documents in across York or libraries or the council’s West Offices.