UPDATED – Developers submit plans to bulldoze Green Belt land off Moor Lane

As expected, developers have formally submitted an application to build 516 homes on Green Belt land adjacent to Askham Bog off Moor Lane in Woodthorpe.

The red line marks the boundary of the proposed development site

The plans are overwhelmingly opposed by local residents, and by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust which manages Askham Bog.

Local Lib Dem councillors have consistently opposed the plans, and we urge residents to lodge objections with the council. The planning application can be viewed on the council website HERE. To submit an objection, go to this website and click on ‘Comments’ and follow the instructions.

***UPDATE*** The council website had initially shown a deadline of 9th January for residents to submit comments and objections. This was incorrect, and we are now told that the closing date will be at the end of January or beginning of February.

Have your say on Moor Lane green belt proposal

In our recent FOCUS newsletter we set out details of the draft Local Plan for York that the joint administration has developed.

We are pleased that the draft plan, if approved, would see land off Moor Lane given proper Green Belt protection. This is great news, after the previous Labour administration in York proposed initially that the land be built on, and then said that it should be ‘safeguarded’ for future development.

Moor Lane field

So whilst we may have won this battle, we haven’t yet won the war. The draft Local Plan is now out for consultation, and if residents want to see the land off Moor Lane given Green Belt protection, they need to make your views known by responding to the consultation.

We now know that developers are fighting the proposed designation of this land as Green Belt – Barwood Development Securities Ltd are promoting an alternative plan that would see a staggering 1,250 homes built all the way from the railway line to the ring road roundabout. You can read more about these worrying proposals on at http://tinyurl.com/zst8bqr

This new threat makes it even more important that residents respond to the consultation to express support for the council’s draft Local Plan.

The consultation runs until 12th September, and there are lots of ways to take part:

  • You can go to www.york.gov.uk/localplan to view the Local Plan proposals and complete an online form
  • You can e-mail localplan@york.gov.uk
  • You can write to Freepost RTEG-TYYU-KLTZ, Local Plan, City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York YO1 6GA
  • A special copy of the council’s ’Our City’ newsletter will also be arriving on doormats shortly, summarising the consultation information and providing a freepost response form

There will also be a drop-in exhibition at Tesco Askham Bar on Wednesday 24th August from 3pm to 7.30pm.

This consultation is about the draft Local Plan that the council is proposing, not about the Barwood proposals. It is vital that as individuals, and as a community, we express our support for the plan to give land off Moor Lane proper Green Belt protection.

Housing numbers still a guessing game… Green Belt threatened by Tory plans

Last minute policy flip tory

The final York Council meeting last week approved a Tory motion covering the vexed question of how much land should be reserved for house building over the next 20 years.

There have been many different house building predictions floated over the last four years.

The final decision of the Liberal Democrat led Council was to approve a Council Plan allocating space for 575 additional homes a year.  These would all have been built on sites which either already had planning permission or on “brownfield” previously developed sites. The Plan assumed that 10% of sites would be “windfalls” – sites like the former Press building which unexpectedly became available for residential development.

That Plan was later jettisoned by a new Labour administration that by 2012 had come up with a figure of between 1200 and 1400 homes per year. This was far beyond the natural growth of the City (homes for existing York residents) with 80% of the 40,000 new homes likely to be occupied by inward migrants.

Most of the homes were to have been built on Green Belt land.

Big City small

It led to a public outcry with residents launching an “Our City, not Big City” campaign.

Eventually in October 2014 the Labour Leadership was forced to resign and their Draft Local Plan numbers were abandoned.

However the new Council to be elected on May 7th will need to adopt a new Local Plan. With the latest  ONS figures painting a very different picture of housing need in the City, the Conservatives were right to say that much lower house building numbers were now justified.

However their web site paints a confused picture.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

On it they talk about a need to build 830 additional homes per year. That amounts to 16,600 additional houses during the next 20 years, and means the City would expand in size by 21% by 2035. Over 50% of the new homes would be likely to be occupied by inward migrants.

It appears that some Councillors have misunderstood the latest ONS population projections.

The latest figures say that York would have a natural population growth of 19,000 people between 2014 and 2030. This generates a demand for 540 extra homes each year.  

Anything above that figure caters for (in many peoples view unsustainable) economic growth

So it looks like the Tories are now also planning a “Big City” growth plan. Inevitably this would mean building on large parts of the Green Belt.

NB Over 50% of new planning permissions are currently being given for “windfall sites” All are “brownfield”

On average, over the last three years, 382 new homes per year have been built in York

Significant planning decision for York Green Belt

Brecks Lane, Strensall  planning application turned down by Secretary of State

click to download full decision

click to download full decision

A proposal to build 102 houses on land next to Brecks Lane in Strensall has been turned down by the Secretary of State,

He “called in” the application after 9 Labour Councillors outvoted 7 Opposition Councillors to approve it at a local Planning committee meeting held on 24th February 2014. At that time the Council still had an overall Labour majority under the leadership of Cllr Alexander.

The Minister said that the refusal was because the site was located in the Green Belt.

This has a major significance for other peripheral sites around the City which were to be taken out of he Green Belt under Labours “Big City” expansion plans.

Now the draft Local Plan – rejected by the Council in October – has received a further blow.

It is good news for threatened sites in Woodthorpe, Foxwood Lane and between Acomb and the A1237, as all are in the currently defined Green Belt

The full decision can be downloaded by clicking here

No decision will be taken on the Local Plan now until after the Council elections on May 7th.

There are around 5000 outstanding planning permissions for new homes outstanding in York. The majority are on “brownfield” previously developed.

Cllr Ann Reid the new Liberal Democrat chair of the Planning Committee commented;

Members of the City of York Council planning committee visit the land at Strensall where Linden Homes want to build 102 homes

Site inspection in 2014

“I am delighted that the Secretary of State has refused planning permission for this site. Crucially, the ruling completely undermines a number of claims made by the Labour Cabinet and further discredits their Draft Local Plan.

 “The ruling recognises that the land is in the Green Belt and development should therefore be blocked in order to protect York’s character and stop unrestricted urban sprawl. It shows that even without a Local Plan in place it will not be open-season for developers in York’s countryside.

 “Crucially, the ruling supports the view that preventing development on this site, and on other Green Belt sites, will encourage development of brownfield land. This is why the Liberal Democrat Group has consistently advocated a brownfield first building policy.

 “The ruling says that only in very special circumstances should Green Belt land be developed. Labour have not demonstrated that those circumstances exist for this or other sites across York.

 “With so many undeveloped brownfield sites it is imperative that these are developed before a further attempt is made to bulldoze the Green Belt. Labour’s housing policy is once again in tatters and a radical rethink is needed.”

Crunch Green Belt meeting put back

Green Belt campaign logo The Council meeting – which was to have publicly discussed for the first time Labours plans to build in the York Green Belt – has been put back from the 18th September to Monday 22nd September.

The decision has not been publicised and is obviously designed to ensure that only minimum notice is given to residents about the revised plans.

Labour hope that this will frustrate opponents of their original plan which would have seen the size of the City increase by 25% over the next 15 years.

Now it appears that the new plans won’t be made available to the public before 15th September.

The proposals will then be rushed through a – Labour controlled – Cabinet meeting on 25th September.



York Green Belt showdown meeting date set for 18th September

The meeting to discuss possible changes to Labours highly controversial Local Plan proposals will take place on Thursday 18th September at 5.30pm at West Offices.

Ann Reid at one of the Green Belt sites that Labour want to build on

Ann Reid at one of the Green Belt sites that Labour want to build on

This will be the first opportunity that residents will have to personally confront the Labour Councillors who are responsible for the plan which could see 22,000 additional homes built in the City – mostly on land currently defined as “Green Belt”

The Labour plan would see the city increase in size by 25% over the next 15 years with potentially dramatic effects on transport, health, education and other public services in the City.

The papers for the meeting will be published on 10th September on the Councils web site.

Any approved changes – and there will have to be some as new brownfield sites for over 1600 homes have been identified since the draft plan was published in April 2013 – will apparently be reported to a “Cabinet” meeting on 25th September.

Given that there were over 15,000 objections to the Councils plan, giving residents only 8 days to read and analyse the official response is insulting to residents.

Amongst the original plans were proposals to build on land opposite Woodthorpe/Acomb Park on Moor Lane.

Green Belt campaign logo

Proposals to build a “Showman’s Yard” on land between Wetherby Road and Knapton were subsequently withdrawn by the land owners, although the Councils enthusiasm for the scheme means that the Green Belt designation of the site is still under threat.

Labour are hoping to rush their plans through before they lose power in next years local Council elections. However a protracted Public Inquiry (Examination in Public) now seems inevitable.

Residents who wish to speak at either of the meetings (18th and/or 25th) must register to do so at least a day before the meeting.

Residents urged to have their say



At a public meeting next week local residents will get the chance to have their say on controversial plans to build on Green Belt land north of York.


The meeting will discuss proposals by Labour run York Council to build 1,500 houses north of Haxby & Wigginton under its long-term citywide development plan. The event has been arranged by Liberal Democrats as part of their campaign to Save York’s Green Belt.


The public meeting comes after it was revealed that York Council is only planning a “limited consultation” on the proposals and will not be organising a meeting for residents in the ward or delivering a leaflet to all houses. The council’s low-key 6 week consultation began last week and focuses on the changes made to last year’s Draft Local Plan.


The public meeting will be taking place on 25th June at 7pm at Haxby & Wigginton Methodist Church, The Village, Wigginton,YO32 2JJ


The Draft Local Plan’s references for the Haxby and Wigginton sites are ST9 & SF4. Details of the proposals can be found here:http://www.york.gov.uk/localplan

Further threat to York Green Belt

Liberal Democrats say that thousands of extra houses could be built on the Green Belt after new figures were released by Labour run York Council.

Save the green belt poster Dringhouses


The housing figures are contained in papers published as part of the council’s 6 week ‘further sites’ consultation, which begins today. Labour was forced to include the housing figures after Lib Dem councillors ‘called-in’ the decision to start public consultation without the numbers.


Last year Labour’s Draft Local Plan earmarked 16,000 houses for York’s Green Belt. However, the new information shows that use of so-called ‘safeguarded land’ could increase that figure by thousands more. Safeguarded land is allocated to meet long-term development need and means land that is being removed from the Green Belt and earmarked for housing.Safeguarded sites at Earswick and next to a planned new settlement at Whinthorpe could see over 2,000 and over 4,000 houses built respectively.


Meanwhile, some Green Belt sites first identified last year will increase in size, including East of Metcalfe Lane and North of Haxby while new sites such as Stockton Lane, the Old School Playing Fields in New Earswick and off Boroughbridge Road would see hundreds more houses built if Labour’s proposals are agreed.


“Give residents the facts on housing plans” say York LibDems

Liberal Democrat councillors say that public consultation on controversial housing plans should be delayed until residents are given the full facts.

Green Belt campaign logo

Last year Labour run York Council published its ‘Draft Local Plan’ which outlined proposals to build 22,000 houses on sites across York, including 16,000 in the Green Belt. Last week the Labour Cabinet approved a report for public consultation which earmarked further sites and recommended boundary changes on sites identified last year.

However, the public consultation papers do not include housing numbers either for the new sites or amended housing numbers for the revised sites. Consultation papers last year included housing numbers. Controversially, many of the new sites are on Green Belt land.

The Council have also failed to update their plan numbers to take into account over 1000 homes, which have been granted planning permission for housing during the last year, and which are on sites which were not included when the Draft Local Plan was published 12 months ago.


York Council publishes Local Plan objections

Largest ever response by residents and businesses

The scale of the opposition, to Labours plan to increase the size of the City by 25% over the next 15 years, is now apparent as all the objections registered have been published on the Councils web site.

It would take someone weeks to read through even the summaries which have been provided.

These include sections on the proposed Moor Lane development, land to the rear of The Square and at the stables on Tadcaster Road. Dozens of objections have been lodged including one from English Heritage.

In addition to individual responses 21 petitions were submitted by residents.

Some commentary has been provided by officials but it remains unclear when Councillors will get the opportunity to debate the issues raised and, indeed when objectors will get the chance to make representations in person prior to the next draft being published.

The draft plan has already been undermined by the revelation a few days ago that, over the last 18 months, most planning permissions in the City have been granted on brownfield sites not identified for housing development in the Draft Local Plan published last year.