Have Your Say,
· Whilst planning applications for strategic sites are discouraged before the approval of the Local Plan, if developers choose to push sites forward, their applications will need to be considered. It is unlikely, however, that a planning application would be agreed if there were a number of outstanding issues.
· A resident commented that a house sale had recently fallen through due to the implications of the Local Plan. Mr Grainger replied that this was regrettable and noted the situation.
· One resident raised the issue that Holgate was in the bottom 20% of the country for deprivation, including in terms of air pollution. It was commented that adding an extra main road, whilst cheaper financially, into an area which was already suffering from air pollution, would have negative effects on the health of residents. It was further commented that a new road would not necessarily alleviate greater traffic density and that there was a feeling that the new road was already a foregone conclusion. Mr Grainger commented that the way to challenge such issues was through the planning consultation process. He further commented that nothing could be assumed at this point and that any plans that are recommended will need to show that sites are viable, affordable, deliverable and sustainable. A resident then questioned whether formal approval had already been given for the new road.
ACTION: Martin Grainger to clarify whether formal approval has already been given for the new road and to pass this information on to councillors.
· A number of concerns were raised regarding the need for affordable housing. Mr Grainger explained that a strategic assessment of the housing market was conducted as part of the evidence for the Plan and that this assessment identified the amount of affordable housing needed. He went on to explain that for every site above 5 hectares, there was a bespoke evaluation of the needs for affordable housing, transportation, schools, etc. The aim was to maximise public benefit whilst balancing the interests of developers. Every site needed to be viable. One resident pointed out that the figures in the Plan don’t tally with the amount of affordable housing needed. Mr Grainger acknowledged this point, explaining that the Plan tries to meet these needs whilst creating a balance with other issues such as preserving the green belt. It was pointed out that developers don’t want to build affordable housing since their aim is to maximise their profits. Mr Grainger explained that in the past the targets for affordable housing came with a ‘subject to viability’ caveat. Now the idea is to conduct the viability work up front, understanding the needs, economics, planning gains, etc. beforehand, which should then result in greater benefits for residents. Cllr Derbyshire queried whether, since a central tenet of the Plan was to build on brownfield sites, which are inherently more expensive to develop, this would lead to higher costs. Mr Grainger replied that the ‘planning gain’ or benefits are considered as a whole and that each case is site dependent. He did comment that there is still an amount of greenfield site planning in the Plan.
· In response to a query about whether the Council has vested interests in the proposed York Central site, Mr Grainger informed residents that the consultation is rigorous, fair and transparent. The Council has a role to be professional and neutral and to consider York Central in exactly the same way as any other site. If this doesn’t happen, then this will be picked up during the Government examination, during which all evidence will be scrutinised in great detail to ensure a fair and equal process, in addition to the viability and sustainability of the Local Plan.
· One resident commented on the amount of commuter parking locally and drew the attention of Mr Grainger to the parking model used in Cambridge. Mr Grainger commented that he was aware of the Cambridge model. He then explained that York’s transport infrastructure was still to be examined in detail once development sites have been confirmed.
· On the basis that many residents need to travel in order to access leisure amenities in the city, it was suggested that greater local leisure facilities be built into the Plan. Mr Grainger replied that the intention was to include as much ‘planning gain’, or benefits, as possible, within the bounds of what was sustainable and financially viable.
· It was queried whether there was an overall vision for the York of the future, including economic growth, building on York’s heritage and capitalising on the fact that the city has 2 universities. Mr Grainger explained that the vision for York would be set out in the next draft of the Local Plan due in the early part of 2017.
· A number of residents raised concerns relating to York central. Cllr Derbyshire requested that residents advise Councillors of their concerns and that these would be taken forward appropriately. Mr Grainger stated that these concerns could also be raised as part of the consultation process because of the impact of the York Central plans on Holgate Ward.
· In response to a resident query regarding the development potential at the ‘teardrop’ site, Mr Grainger explained that any planned development needed to be both sustainable and viable, including socially, in terms of the infrastructure needed, and financially. Any developer would need to put forward a convincing case for dealing with any site constraints. Mr Grainger reiterated the need to submit comments as part of the consultation process in order for them to be taken into consideration in the next stage of preparing the Local Plan.
Cllr Derbyshire once again reminded residents to please submit their comments and concerns either on the online form or on the appropriate consultation forms, highlighting their attendance at this meeting in order to qualify for the extended deadline of Monday 19th September. All comments are critical to the process, including those relevant to York Central.
Cllr Derbyshire thanked Mr Grainger, Ms Macefield and residents for their input to the meeting.