Will planning shake-up force locals out of York – or help them onto the housing ladder?

Julian Sturdy and Rachael Maskell MPs

Government proposals to overhaul the planning system could “force residents out of the city”, York Central MP Rachael Maskell has warned.

But York Outer MP Julian Sturdy says he supports plans to get rid of unreasonable delays – but the changes must not lead to inappropriate development.

The Government has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the planning system. Under the proposals, land could be classified into three areas, ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ or ‘protected’.

Growth zones will be marked for significant development – with certain types of developments automatically getting outline approval.

Renewal areas would be reserved for being “gently” made denser – with more homes built in residential areas – mean a presumption that planning applications be approved.

Protected areas, such as Green Belt land, would have stricter planning controls.

Applications for beautiful buildings could be fast-tracked, all streets could be tree-lined and a first homes scheme could be launched to offer homes at a 30 per cent discount for first time buyers and key workers.

‘Meeting local needs’

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy’s view

Conservative MP Mr Sturdy said: “I support the White Paper’s overall aim of better meeting public need and unblocking unreasonable delay, but I am also very clear that this must not lead to relaxing protections against inappropriate or speculative development.

“I am carefully examining the proposals for local authority development of Local Plans, and the suggested new categories of land as ‘growth’, ‘renewal’, and ‘protected’, and want to be reassured that these will facilitate sustainable new housing where needed, and not serve to railroad through developments that lack local backing.

“I warmly welcome the ‘First Homes’ 30 per cent discount proposal on new homes for key workers, first-time buyers and local people, which strikes me as an excellent way of ensuring new housing meets concrete local needs.”

“I welcome the fact these draft proposals are being submitted to a wide-ranging public consultation until October, and encourage any residents with ideas or concerns to make a submission.”

‘Subverting local democracy’

York Central MP Rachael Maskell’s view

Labour MP Ms Maskell said: “While Government are trying to sugar the pill, their proposals are subverting local democracy.

“For a nation that called for more control, this Tory Government are dictating where to build, what to build and the housing density, removing local residents and experts without any say.

“The plans are also taking away the obligation for providing affordable housing in smaller developments at a time when so many of York’s residents are being priced out of the market and our children and grandchildren are being forced out of this city.

York needs new homes. Photograph: Joe Giddens / PA Wire

“Yet again the winners will be the developers who are only interested in building their profits not homes local people desperately need.”

‘We need more social housing’

Planning lead Cllr Andrew Waller’s view

Cllr Andrew Waller, City of York Council’s executive member for planning, said: “Nationally, nine in 10 planning applications are approved by councils, while more than a million homes given planning permission in the last decade, which have not yet been built.

“This includes thousands of homes in York. Therefore to suggest that planning is a barrier to housebuilding is wrong.

“If the Government’s proposals in this consultation were to be implemented many residents may find that they have lost the ability to object to applications that they currently take for granted.

“The planning system does need to change but not at the expense of public involvement, and the ability for councillors to represent their communities.

“There needs to be a balance in the amount of open space being left in our cities, with clear commitments to continuing the principles of Strays in York, and the ability to require similar open spaces close to built-up areas.

“If the Government was truly committed to building more houses, they would listen to local authorities who have long called for reforms to be allowed to build more social housing.”