York City Council has received the first response from the government inspectors assigned to assess the local plan submitted in May, and it does not make happy reading for the ruling Lib Dem/Tory coalition. The inspectors have stated that they have “significant concerns” about the plan, and are scheduling a public examination for later in the year.

The main concern raised is with the 867 houses per annum assessed housing need, with the inspectors stating that the evidence necessary to demonstrate that this figure is properly justified is absent from the plan. “On the contrary,” the letter continues, “the evidence produced for and submitted by the council does rather more to suggest that the 867 dpa (dwellings per annum) figure is not justified.”

The letter goes on to explain that infrastructure plans are unclear, including planning for new school places, echoing the exact criticisms that our Labour councillors raised when the plan was unveiled. Meanwhile, Lib Dem and Tory Councillors have tied themselves in knots trying to put a positive spin on the letter, saying they welcomed the public examination as a “vital next stage in the process” rather than a rebuke.

Labour Deputy Leader Stuart Barnes stated, “Short of instructing the council to start again, the inspectors’ initial conclusions couldn’t have been much more damning. We’re extremely concerned and disappointed with the response the council has received. We have warned at every step that this plan would provide too few homes for York, and that it ignored independent expert advice.” View the initial observations here.

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