PLANS to build a massive eco-town on green belt land just outside York are set to be formally opposed by city councillors.

At a meeting next week, City of York councillors will be asked to support a motion criticising the Clifton Gate scheme, and voicing disappointment at the way the project was brought forward.

Developers Hallam Land Management and Commercial Estates Group want to build 5,500 homes on land immediately north of the A1237 outer ring road at Clifton Moor, in a move that has angered council leaders.

They say York cannot cope with such a major development on its doorstep, and are unhappy that the plans were submitted to the Government, without the council being consulted.

In a motion to next week's full council meeting, local Conservative councillor Joe Watt states: "There are severe infrastructure problems in the vicinity of the proposed site, which will be made worse should the development proceed.

"Moreover, there are major traffic congestion problems on the major roads feeding the site and the council does not consider that the measures for transportation links proposed for Clifton Gate will ease the congestion.

"Furthermore, the council is disappointed that the Government selected the Clifton Gate site in concurrence with potential developers without consulting City of York Council."

The motion goes on to call on the council's chief executive, Bill McCarthy, to write to the Minister for Communities and Local government and the Minister for Yorkshire to formally object to the selection of Clifton Gate as a potential eco-town.

At the meeting next week, Richard Moore, a councillor for Skelton, Rawcliffe and Clifton Without, will present a petition opposing the plans.

The developers have said Clifton Gate would be an exciting development, and promised to dual part of the outer ring road if the scheme got the go-ahead.

In their submission to the Government, the firms wrote: "Clifton Gate represents a unique and exceptional opportunity to create a high quality residential-led mixed use development."

They said the 345-hectare development would become "an exemplar of good environmentally-friendly design and sustainability and one that we believe would achieve an international reputation in keeping with that of York itself."

Charity owns site

PART of the site of a proposed eco-town on York's outskirts is owned a local housing foundation, The Press has learned.

The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust bought land off Wigginton Road in 1998 - nine years before the controversial eco-town plans were drawn up.

As previously reported in The Press, developers want to build 5,500 homes on green belt land immediately north of the A1237 at Clifton Moor.

The site covers some 345 hectares, between Shipton Road and Wigginton Road. Developers Hallam Land Management and Commercial Estates Group say about three-quarters of the land is held by two parties, and it is they who are the main driving forces behind the plans.

But The Press has learned the other eight landowners includes the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, a registered charity and social landlord.

It purchased a patch of land next to Wigginton Cottage farm in 1998.

A spokeswoman said today: "Based on what we understand are the boundaries of the site, we do own a small piece of land within it.

"We have not been contacted by the developers, but do not find that surprising at this early stage."

The developers have said they would pay for part of the A1237 to be dualled if the eco-town got the go-ahead, but city leaders said it was not a price worth paying.