PLANS for thousands of new homes on the edge of York will “threaten the very fibre” of its green belt, one of the city’s MPs has told a Westminster debate.

City of York Council’s draft Local Plan, currently undergoing public consultation, envisages building 22,000 homes across the city by 2030. The Labour-led authority says this level of housebuilding is needed to meet demand, drive prices down and help economic growth.

Opponents claim the target is too high and large developments on greenfield sites will destroy York's character.

In a Westminster Hall debate on the city’s green belt yesterday, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said some of Britain’s most important cities would be “changed out of all recognition” if thousands of houses were built on fields and claimed the council's plans were “profoundly unsustainable". "York is a small historic city where the local infrastructure is already under strain,” he said.

“To add tens of thousands of homes could mean tens of thousands more cars on our already over-congested roads, and in my mind, the council must reduce its figures to a more sustainable and manageable level.”

Mr Sturdy said reaction from York Outer residents showed the “vast majority” agreed York’s green belt was under threat. The draft Local Plan includes a 5,580-home village next to the A64 near Heslington, 4,020 homes north of Clifton Moor, and developments at Copmanthorpe. Haxby, Monks Cross, Osbaldwick, Huntington and Woodthorpe.

Planning Minister Nick Boles said there would be “simply no point” in a council submitting an “unsustainable” Local Plan, and national planning policy cemented the need for green belt protection.

City council leader James Alexander said Mr Sturdy should shape the plan's future with the authority, rather than in Westminster, and had not explained his alternative for solving York’s housing problems.

He said: “Existing Conservative plans would result in homes remaining just as unaffordable for thousands of York residents as they are today, if not more so.

"Without a credible Local Plan, we will not define a York green belt for the first time, leaving the draft green belt vulnerable to uncontrolled development. Julian Sturdy needs to explain his inconsistency in speaking up in defence of this draft green belt."