Julian Calls on Council to Withdraw Plans for Traveller Sites on Greenbelt or Face Embarrassment
February 20, 2014
Julian has repeated his calls for a U-turn from the local Council on their plans to introduce a further 36 caravan pitches for Gyspy, Traveller and Showpeople families on the City’s greenbelt, suggesting that they could be wasting taxpayers’ money and risking “further damage to the authority’s reputation” if they do not.
In a letter to Planning Chiefs at the City of York Council, Julian has called for the removal of four proposed sites in rural locations on York’s established greenbelt from the draft Local Plan. Julian’s letter follows his comments in a recent parliamentary debate on Gypsy & Traveller Policy, in which he accused the authority of “irresponsible and complacent conduct” and of displaying a “blatant disregard for the greenbelt” when progressing their draft Local Plan.
Under the Plan, which sets out the Council’s development vision for the City and its surrounding communities over the next 15 years, York’s countryside setting is facing unprecedented threats of development, with 16,000 homes, over 40 areas of search for renewable energy and four Traveller and Showpeople sites having been proposed on the City’s greenbelt.
In his letter, Julian highlighted his concerns over the siting of the proposed Traveller encampments and inaccuracies within the accommodation needs assessments the Council had undertaken in support of the Plan last year. He also reiterated Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis’ recent comments that unmet need does not constitute the exceptional circumstances required to permit inappropriate development in the greenbelt. As an example of this, Julian highlighted a recent case in Stanley near Wakefield, in which permission for a 10 pitch Traveller site was refused by the Secretary of State because of its greenbelt location, despite an acknowledgement that there was significant unmet need in the local area.
Julian’s letter went on to say:
“I have grave concerns that if the current sites within the draft Local Plan are progressed further, the Council will in all likelihood be challenged and it may ultimately be the case that the Secretary of State will refuse to permit the development of these sites. Therefore continuing to progress these sites is not, in my opinion, a good use of taxpayers’ money and I feel the Council should very carefully consider whether withdrawing the current sites at this early stage might be an expedient way of limiting any disruption to the Local Plan making process or preventing any further damage to the authority’s reputation.”