THE Ministry of Defence is “disappointed” that the council is considering removing a scheme for 550 homes at Strensall barracks from York’s Local Plan.

Natural England says building homes at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks site after it closes in 2021 would have an “adverse impact” on neighbouring Strensall Common and advised the land be taken out of the plan.

But in a letter from the MoD to the council, seen by The Press, the ministry says the housing plans are a key part of the defence land disposal programme and significant resources have already been put into the scheme.

It adds that the Local Plan programme was delayed so that the three MoD sites in York could be included, and that the council’s timescales have meant that the organisation does not have time to respond to the views expressed by Natural England.

A spokesman from the MoD said: “We remain committed to the disposal of Queen Elizabeth Barracks and are disappointed that City of York Council is considering removing it from its Local Plan. We will continue to work with the council to resolve this issue and bring forward this brownfield site for much-needed residential development.”

A report prepared for a Local Plan working group meeting tomorrow says Natural England has fears about dogs worrying sheep and cattle on Strensall Common and that there could be a 24 per cent increase in people visiting the nature reserve if the housing plans go ahead.

A City of York Council spokesman said: “The Local Plan has been submitted and is now being examined by the (Planning) Inspectorate. As detailed in the public reports, following discussion with Natural England, and to comply with habitats legislation, officers recommend that the Strensall Barracks site is removed from the Local Plan so that it remains sound. Such a change would be subject to consultation required by the inspectorate through the examination process. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation can engage in this statutory process.”