PLANS to drastically increase the number of new homes built in York have been scrapped from City of York Council’s Local Plan at a meeting tonight (Tuesday, January 23).

Going against recommendations by planning officers which said increasing the number of new homes to be created was the best way to ensure the decision was not taken out of the council’s hands by the Government, the Local Plan Working Group tonight stuck to its initial draft plans which will see 867 homes built in York each year until 2033.

Officers said that increasing that figure in line with Government recommendations to 1,070 new homes per year would leave the council “in a better position for defending the plan proposals”, leaving the authority in “a more robust position” against criticisms previously levelled by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid, who said a lack of progress by councils who did not meet their planning needs could see decisions made more centrally.

Officers advised increasing the size of proposed garden villages near Metcalfe Lane, Wigginton Road and Elvington Lane, and creating new developments off Kettlestring Lane, North Lane in Wheldrake, Riverside Gardens, Elvington, and at former racecourse stables off Tadcaster Road.

Cllr Ann Reid, a Liberal Democrat and interim executive member for culture, leisure and tourism, submitted a motion rejecting most of the officers' proposed increases in homes at sites around the city including green belt land. 

However, she submitted a motion to agree to increase the number of properties at the York Central site from 1,500 to between 1,700 and 2,500 - increasing the size of the development from 60,000 square metres to 100,000 square metres - and reduce the number of homes at Strensall Barracks from 578 to 500.

The vote was passed by a majority of six to five, with one abstention.

Cllr Reid said: "We think it is the right thing to do for York and strikes a balance between the need for new houses and protection of the city and the city's green belt."

Cllr Reid said there were risks that the Government could disagree with the council's decision, but she believed their inspectors would seek to work with the authority before taking control of the plan away from it.

She said: "There are degrees of risk in there, so it goes from acceptance of the plan we submit to taking away our powers.

"It might be the inspector just thinks we could just find other sites for the houses. We have to submit what we feel is right for the city and then work through whatever the inspector might say about it."

Cllr Fiona Derbyshire voted against the plan, and said she was disappointed with the result.

She said: "I think it feels like a betrayal of the people who voted for us. They expect us to plan the future of York in a way that's economically viable and provides for their basic needs and I think the plan voted for will fail them on those issues.

"What we've ended up with is piecemeal additions to existing development with no infrastructure.

"Beyond the risk of a plan that is not sound and is rejected we have got unimaginative piecemeal development that's going to add further burden wherever it is."

Further public consultation will take place before the plan is submitted.