City of York Council West Offices
City of York Council West Offices

Labour’s spokesperson for the Local Plan on City of York Council has stated her belief that political interference has led to the council mishandling the process. Councillor Claire Douglas stated that the council’s unwillingness to progress its Local Plan in accordance with Government guidance is set to delay the process further and add to millions already wasted.

The Local Plan, intended to set out how the city will develop over the next 15 years and beyond, has been mired in delays and increased costs for years since Liberal Democrats blocked a Labour Local Plan in 2014.

“We have a leading Lib Dem councillor responding to Government inspectors saying ‘you’re wrong – we know best’ and ignoring their advice.” said Cllr Douglas. “That’s the kind of approach that makes you wonder if this council is actually serious about adopting a Local Plan.

“After pulling the council up in December for its unwillingness to provide important supporting evidence, inspectors are now doing it again because the council has failed to follow guidance in publishing the latest information for residents.  This highlights both a lack of transparency and a thinly-veiled contempt for residents and for the inspectors we are relying on to examine our Local Plan.  It seems a very odd way to carry on to say the least”.

Liberal Democrats blocked Labour’s Local Plan in 2014 claiming it wasn’t the right Plan for York, arguing they would get one adopted upon taking control of the Council. Almost seven years on, adoption of a first Local Plan for York for almost 70 years appears as far away as ever, with Government officials strongly recommending the Council starts the process again because its supporting evidence is now so out of date.

Labour councillor Kallum Taylor is vice chair of the council’s Local Plan Working Group Committee. He is seeking a meeting to discuss the problems and see if progress can be made. He says:

“I will be writing to the Local Plan Working Group Chair to request a meeting so that councillors and residents can understand the problems the council is having supplying the Government Inspectors with the information they require. Labour is desperate to get a Local Plan adopted so that we can see carefully planned and anticipated development in our city, and not the planning free-for-all encouraged by the Lib Dem-led council’s current approach.

“We need to hear what the barriers are to complying with Government guidance, as this is causing more delays and costing York residents more and more money beyond the £2m spent since 2015.  We just need to get this done and stop the costly dithering and blind stubbornness.”

Government inspectors have cited decade-old supporting evidence for the proposed Plan as being too out of date to give them confidence a Local Plan can now be approved.  They have also expressed dissatisfaction over requests for more information on York’s Green Belt having gone unanswered for months by City of York Council.

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