York Green Party

Planning Committee shoots itself in the foot

22 February 2012

"The recent decision by planning committee to approve a big new garden centre at York Business Park threatens long term job potential for York", says Green leader Andy D'Agorne. "It's also evidence of the council's lack of regard for its own long term planning policies."


Cllr D'Agorne was the only member of the planning committee to vote against the approval on Feb.16th, though other members voiced concerns about the impact the development could have on jobs, local shops and sustainability.

The proposal for 12,000 sq m of retail space and 350 car parking spaces will result in the loss of nearly 10% of the land designated for offices and business development over the next 20 years, which, if combined with the Monks Cross II proposal, results in a shortfall of land for high skill job development in the city of York. The LDF however, clearly states that existing employment sites should be protected, so as to foster York's economic potential.

"It seems that Labour's desperation for new jobs and economic growth means our planning policies to protect the city are worthless in the face of a developer wanting to bring a large development to York, even if it involves a net loss of jobs in the city and is contrary to our land allocation policies", said Cllr D'Agorne. "Other developers will now be able to point to this decision when challenging the council on their own applications that are not in line with the council's LDF planning policies."

Even the planning application for the new gardening centre includes evidence that it would divert almost a third of business from the nearby Poppleton Garden Centre, resulting in job losses at that location. Furthermore, 15%of the floor space will be given to camping equipment and other non-gardening merchandise, so that the new shop will be in direct competition with existing inner city retailers. Blacks and Millets have already been obliged to sell up, due to tougher economics, so that inner city shoppers now look forward to a smaller and less attractive outdoor gear market.

"Quite apart from the impact on jobs in the city and in the Poppleton Garden Centre, the location is such that any economic growth will be dependent on car-borne customers accessing the site from the outer ring road. This contradicts transport strategy that says it will provide jobs and services in locations that are easily accessed by public and sustainable transport!" Cllr D'Agorne noted that attempts by Cllr Merrett to give the proposal a fig leaf of sustainability were rebuffed by the developers, who refused to even move the cycle parking spaces to a convenient location, or provide a taxi pick up bay.

The Green councillor speaking against approval said that the committee should 'Stop pussy- footing around' and simply reject the application. The report estimated that it will generate over 200 vehicle movements per hour on a weekday and up to 385 per hour on a Saturday. However officers say that the A59 and A19 roundabouts on the ring road will be able to cope with this once the planned improvements have been made in the next two years. Cllr D'Agorne says that this admirably demonstrates that road building programmes simply lead to more development and traffic filling the space created. "Leaving aside the low return in terms of jobs from using a large proportion of the land for car parking, this is a further missed opportunity for creating a less car based garden centre outlet for residents who either can't afford to run a car or choose not to as part of their commitment to the environment." he added. The nearest bus service is 400m from the site and served only by 30min or hourly services.

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