The emerging City of York Local Plan and Murton
Section 3 in the emerging City of York Local Plan details ‘the spatial strategy for York by setting out the drivers of growth and factors that shape growth, alongside detailing the key areas of change’. Of the 24, two are of particular importance to the Parish of Murton, namely:
- Policy SS2: The Role of York’s Green Belt
- Policy SS9: Land east of Metcalfe Lane (ST7)
The Murton Parish Council decided to concentrate on these two Spatial Strategies when it was asked to comment on the Local Plan.
Policy SS2: The Role of York’s Green Belt
The emerging City of York Local Plan states that:
The primary purpose of the Green Belt is to safeguard the setting and the special character of York and delivering the Local Plan Spatial Strategy. New building in the Green Belt is inappropriate unless it is for one of the exceptions set out in policy GB1.
The general extent of the Green Belt is shown on the Key Diagram. Detailed boundaries shown on the proposals map follow readily recognisable physical features that are likely to endure such as streams, hedgerows and highways.
To ensure that there is a degree of permanence beyond the plan period sufficient land is allocated for development to meet the needs identified in the plan and for a further minimum period of five years to 2038.
3.13 The boundary of the Green Belt is the consequence of decisions about which land serves a Green Belt purpose and which can be allocated for development. The Plan seeks to identify sufficient land to accommodate York’s development needs across the plan period, 2012-2033. In addition, the Plan provides further development land to 2038 (including allowing for some flexibility in delivery) and establishes a Green Belt boundary enduring for at least 20 years. In this Local Plan the Green Belt’s prime purpose is that of preserving the setting and special character of York. This essentially comprises the land shown earlier in the section at Figure 3.1.
3.14 Over and above the areas identified as being important in terms of the historic character and setting of York other land is included to regulate the form and growth of the city and other settlements in a sustainable way. This land will perform the role of checking the sprawl; safeguarding the countryside from encroachment; and encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
3.15 In defining the detailed boundaries of the Green Belt care has been taken to follow readily recognisable physical features that are likely to endure such as streams, hedgerows, footpaths and highways. Clearly it will not always be possible to do this because of factors on the ground and where this is the case there will be a clear logic to the boundary that can be understood and interpreted on the ground.
The Murton Parish Council responded thus
Murton Parish Council reaffirms its support for Policy SS2 recognising its primary purpose is ‘to preserve the setting and the special character of York’.
We also recognise that the explanation on page 31, paragraphs 3.13-3.15, and together with Sections 8, 9 and 10, will be invaluable in guiding the Parish Council with planning decisions and recommendations.
However, we are extremely disappointed that there is no mention of enforcement and we want to draw attention to National Planning Policy Framework Section 207 which states that ‘Effective enforcement is important as a means of maintaining public confidence in the planning system’.
This City has numerous examples where enforcement should have been carried out in he Green Belt (we have 3 outstanding at the moment)and we believe that all the proposals in the plan depend on implementation. Our own recent experiences suggest that more resources (and a greater will) for enforcement are badly needed.
We are therefore disappointed to find that the NPPF Section 207 is not developed in the Local Plan. It avoids giving ‘a local enforcement plan to manage enforcement proactively, in a way that is appropriate to their area’. This is, for many parish councils, a grave disappointment.
Policy SS9: Land east of Metcalfe Lane (ST7)
The emerging City of York Local Plan states that:
Land East of Metcalfe Lane (ST7) will deliver approximately 845 dwellings at this garden village development site. In addition to complying with the policies within this Local Plan, the site must be master planned and delivered in accordance with the following key principles:
- Create a new ‘garden’ village that reflects the existing urban form of York of the main York urban area as a compact city surrounded by villages.
- Deliver a sustainable housing mix in accordance with the Council’s most up to date Strategic Housing Market Assessment and affordable housing policy.
- Create a new local centre providing an appropriate range of shops, services and facilities to meet the needs of future occupiers of the development.
- Deliver education and community provision early in the scheme’s phasing, in order to allow the establishment of a new sustainable community. A new primary facility and secondary provision (potentially in combination with Site ST8 – North of Monks Cross) may be required to serve the development as there is limited capacity available in existing schools. Further detailed assessments and associated viability work will be required.
- Demonstrate that all transport issues have been addressed, in consultation with the Council and Highways England, as necessary, to ensure sustainable transport provision at the site is achievable. The impacts of the site individually and cumulatively with sites ST8, ST9, ST14 and ST15 should be addressed.
- Provide vehicular access from Stockton Lane to the north of the site and/or Murton Way to the south of the site (as shown on the proposals map), with a small proportion of public transport traffic potentially served off Bad Bargain Lane. Access between Stockton Lane and Murton Way will be limited to public transport and walking/ cycling links only.
- Deliver high quality, frequent and accessible public transport services through the whole site, to provide attractive links to York City Centre. It is envisaged such measures will enable upwards of 15% of trips to be undertaken using public transport. Public transport links through the adjacent urban area will be sought, as well as public transport upgrades to either the Derwent Valley Light Rail Sustrans route, or bus priority measures on Hull Rd and/or Stockton lane, subject to feasibility and viability.
- Optimise pedestrian and cycle integration, connection and accessibility in and out of the site and connectivity to the city and surrounding area creating well connected internal streets and walkable neighbourhoods, to encourage the maximum take-up of these more ‘active’ forms of transport (walking and cycling).
- Create new open space (as shown on the proposals map) to protect the setting of the Millennium Way that runs through the site. Millennium Way is a historic footpath which follows Bad Bargain Lane and is a footpath linking York’s strays and should be kept open. A 50m green buffer has been included along the route of the Millennium Way that runs through the site to provide protection to this Public Right of Way and a suitable setting for the new development.
- Minimise impacts of access from Murton Way to the south on ‘Osbaldwick Meadows’ Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and provide compensatory provision for any loss.
- Preserve existing views to, and the setting of, York Minster, Millennium Way and Osbaldwick Conservation Area.
3.47 ST7 will create a separate new settlement or ‘garden village’ which fits well with the existing urban form of York consisting of the main urban area of York surrounded by smaller villages. It is therefore consistent with the strategic approach taken to York’s greenbelt particularly conserving the historic character and setting of the city.
The site is partially contained by two strong hedge boundaries and tree boundaries to the west and part of the eastern boundary. Outgang Lane is established and the low level tree boundary to the south is also a recognisable feature. The northern boundary runs along Tang Hall Beck for the most part. This site therefore provides strong Green Belt boundaries.
3.48 Education and community provision should be made early in the scheme’s phasing, in order to allow the establishment of a new sustainable community. A new primary facility and secondary provision may be required to serve the development as there is limited capacity available in existing schools. Contributions towards secondary provision will be sought with a new facility provided in association with ST8 (Land North of Monks Cross). Further detailed assessments and associated viability work will be required.
3.49 There are various access point options for the site (to the north, to the south and to the west) which will need to be assessed in more detail. Detailed surveys of existing highways together with a detailed Transport Assessment are required to model the predicted traffic implications and assess what impacts would be generated on the surrounding highway network. This will inform the level of improvements required, including the associated improvements/upgrades to junctions, carriageways and footpath widths etc. Significant upgrades to the carriageway / footpath width, condition and streetscape may be required to encourage pedestrians and cyclists to use this as an access route to the site.
3.50 The surrounding highway network will also need to be upgraded to mitigate the adverse impacts on the safety of cyclists. Any improvements to the footpaths/cyclepaths will need to take into consideration existing green corridors and the importance of preserving these. It will be essential to secure public transport access to and within the site (all parts of the site to be within 400m of a public transport route). Providing a north-south public transport route through the site could reach a larger population within 400m and would potentially be a commercially attractive option. Travel planning measures may reduce the motor vehicle trip generation but adequate transport links will need to be put in place to make such measures effective. Providing sufficient access to and mitigating the impacts of the development could require substantial infrastructure to be put in place which will need to be assessed further through the viability assessment work.
The Murton Parish Council responded thus
Although this area is not in Murton Parish, its development will affect it. We will restrict ourselves to two specific aspects.
One is the overall environmental impact on the City and our Parish and the second is the impact on the Parish and neighbouring parishes by the increased traffic on already congested roads.
We are deeply influenced by the Policy SS2: The Role of York’s Green Belt in which it is declared that
‘The Green Belt’s prime purpose is that of preserving the setting and special character of York’
Murton Parish Council welcomes this bold statement and it is against this and Policy SS1: Delivering Sustainable Growth for York that we have considered the proposals for Policy SS9.
(i) The environmental impact on the City
In the detailed Appraisal Stage: Preferred Sites Consultation, CYC admits that
Development may obscure
landmarks such as the Minster and that the view is indeed a Key View (No 5), suggesting that
analysis is needed against the proposed development plans and
Significant views should be respected within
Later in the Appraisal, it is noted that
Development will also impact upon views out of York towards the rural
areas and neighbouring villages and it is noted that
Further analysis needed of views should be retained
from the site and
Strong landscaped edge needed to the development primarily on the eastern edge.
Murton Parish Council is also concerned about the impact on Murton itself. In section 6.7, the Appraisal report says
Although the distances between Murton and York will be decreased by development on this site, the proposed boundaries
are such that a reasonable gap between the ring road, Murton and York’s urban area will remain.
However, it is worth going back to the comments from English Heritage which are in an Annex in the Pre Publication Local Plan and quoting them in full:
6.7 Relationship of the historic city of York to the surrounding villages.
Impact (a) The development of this area would reduce the gap between the existing edge of the built-up area of the City from 1.6 km to 720 meters, which is quite a marked reduction — i.e. it could not be described as leaving a “reasonable gap” between Murton and the new eastern edge of the City.
Mitigation (a) In order to retain the relationship of the main built-up area of York with Murton, a substantial area of open countryside should be retained between any new housing and the village.
This is summarised, now under the banner of Historic England in another Annex:
It is likely that this Allocation would result in serious harm to SA Objective 14. The eastern edge of Site ST7 needs to be pulled away from the ring road. The most appropriate approach might be for some limited development on the eastern edge of the main built-up area of the City but this must be of a scale which does not harm the scale or compact nature of the City
In reply, CYC writes that to
maintain that the development is located some distance from Murton and that the impact of development on this character element is minor as Murton and York will be separated by a strip of fields and the ring road (ref 3).
The site has scored a mix of minor and significant negative effects for this Objective 14 subject to the implementation of mitigation (ref 4).
The Parish Council is mindful that there have been changes to the plans. Nevertheless the separation between ST 7 and the village is still only ca 750 metres which English Heritage/Historic England does not regard, as we concur, as a ‘reasonable gap’.
The Parish Council therefore asks CYC to take more account of these criticisms of the present boundaries to ST 7 and that they are redrawn to avoid any unfortunate impact on views to the City and to ensure that the gap between ST7 and the village is increased significantly.
We write this with our recent questionnaire for the Murton Parish Neighbourhood Plan in mind. This was a detailed document to which 83% of households responded, of which 95% were concerned about the traffic through the Parish
With ca 900 dwellings planned for ST 7, we expect there to be over 1500 more cars in the area. We note too that ‘vehicular access is planned from Stockton Lane to the north of the site and/or Murton Way to the south of the site with a small proportion of public transport potentially served off Bad Bargain Lane. Access between Stockton Lane and Murton Way will be limited to public transport and walking/cycling links only’.
We are conscious that there are statements that ‘high quality, frequent and accessible public transport services through the whole site will be sought enabling upwards of 15% trips to be undertaken using public transport‘. It is the other 85% that concerns us. Although the impact on Murton will be secondary to the impact on neighbouring parishes, it will increase, providing further and severe strain on the village roads in the Parish, principally Murton Way and Murton Lane.
It is not possible to comment further in any meaningful way as not even the precise access points are indicated as the Plan simply says that they ‘will need to be assessed in more detail’. We also note the words of caution such as ‘Travel planning measures may reduce the motor vehicle trip generation but adequate transport links will need to be in place to make such measures effective’. Our village has 3 buses a day into York, none on Sundays so we await these plans with interest!
We are conscious that there is a tension between SS1 and SS2 and that the CYC in interpreting SS7 has tried to balance Policy SS2, the Role of York’s Green Belt, with Policy SS1, Delivering Sustainable Growth for York. In doing so, it has to be mindful that the area for SS7 is large enough to make the development large enough to ensure that the Garden village will attract funding to make the necessary infrastructure viable. However, we do not feel that the Plan has given nearly enough credit to the criticisms levelled by English Heritage/Historic England.
We urge CYC to proceed with further work on the feasibility of ST7, particularly on the two points we identify, before any final decision is made. At present there are too many problems identified but not fully addressed for the proposal to be viable within the parameters within the Local Plan.
City of York Local Plan Proposed modifications and Evidence Base Consultation (May 2021)
Subsequent to the submissions reproduced above, the emerging Local Plan has been modified by the City of York Council to answer comments made by the independent Examiners. We noted that our comments on Policy SS9 Land East of Metcalfe Lane (ST7) were not answered and we have made a further submission. This is reproduced below:
Among the planning policies in the NPPF1 which most concern Murton Parish are those relating to transport that:
- support ‘an appropriate mix of uses across an area, and within larger scale sites, to minimize the number and length of journeys needed for employment’;
- ensure that there is ‘active involvement of local highways authorities, other transport infrastructure providers and operators and neighbouring councils, so that strategies and investments for supporting sustainable transport and development patterns are aligned’;
- ‘identify and protect, where there is robust evidence, sites and routes which could be critical in developing infrastructure to widen transport choice and realise opportunities for large scale development’;
- ‘provide for high quality walking and cycling networks and supporting facilities such as cycle parking (drawing on Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans)’;
The village of Murton is in the centre of the Parish and is served by three roads, Murton Way (from Osbaldwick), Murton Lane (from the A166 York-Stamford Bridge Road) and Moor Lane (from Holtby, Stockton on the Forest and York). All three are narrow single carriageway roads with fast traffic.
Replies to six questionnaires used during the consultation period for the development of our Neighbourhood Plan indicate that the volume and speed of traffic is arguably the most contentious issue for residents. For example, 95% of the village resident response showed concern about speeding along Murton Way and 92% in the village itself. The free responses, where residents could add further comments to their answers, may be even more indicative of this concern. 51% cited traffic speed and 36% chose other traffic issues. Likewise, traffic dominated the concerns of residents of dwellings on the southern periphery of the Parish. For example, 80% of the residents in Tranby Avenue are highly concerned or concerned about speeding traffic and well over half the whole population in this area is concerned about speeding along the A1079 Hull Road.
While these specific concerns are outside the competence of the Neighbourhood Plan, the concerns are pertinent to development and thus the Local Plan. Although the Parish is not itself contributing significantly towards increasing the housing stock in York, the Parish abuts two significant developments, Land East of Metcalfe Lane (ca 845 dwellings) (ST72 and Land adjacent to Hull Road (ca 211 dwellings) (ST4). To give some perspective, the former has about six times the number of dwellings in the village and three times of that of the whole Parish, which will inevitably lead to increased traffic in the Parish. The development East of Metcalfe Lane will be the more significant, with vehicular access ‘planned from Stockton Lane to the north of the site and/or Murton Way to the south of the site with a small proportion of public transport potentially served off Bad Bargain Lane. Access between Stockton Lane and Murton Way will be limited to public transport and walking/cycling links only’.
There are statements that ‘high quality, frequent and accessible public transport services through the whole site will be sought enabling upwards of 15% trips to be undertaken using public transport’. It is the other 85% that concerns the Parish. Although it is likely that the impact on the Parish will be less than on neighbouring parishes, it will provide severe added strain on the village roads in the Parish, principally Murton Way and Murton Lane. In a Planning Inspectorate report in 2016, in which traffic was of major concern, the Inspector’s report notes that ‘the data produced by the City of York Council on traffic flows along Murton Way are both sparse and old (dating back to 2003).’
It is not possible to comment further in any meaningful way as the precise access points from the proposed developments are not indicated, as the emerging City of York Local Plan simply says that they ‘will need to be assessed in more detail’. Further, it is noted that ‘Travel planning measures may reduce the motor vehicle trip generation but adequate transport links will need to be in place to make such measures effective’. This is against a background in which Murton village has only 3 buses a day into York, except for Sundays when there are none. If access were to be from Murton Way, substantial improvements would be needed to the road for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians and in the interests of local residents3. Its increased use will then have grave implications for the wider network of rural roads in the area.
The viability of the larger development (ST7) depends on a robust and independent4 transport assessment in relation to this site. Indeed, the survey must address the potential impact on the wider network of rural roads on the east side of York before any decision about this site can be made. The problem crystallizes when the authors of the emerging City of York Local Plan write that ‘…level of improvement required, including the associated improvements/upgrades to junctions, carriageways and footpath widths etc.’5 will be informed by a traffic assessment. With that, the rural vision for our Parish disappears.
The emerging Local Plan also recognises that Murton is on the National Cycle Network, Route 66, heavily used both by leisure cyclists and commuters although two of the three narrow rural roads to and from the village do not have footpaths and the third has a width that only allows walking in single file. At peak times there is a heavy and constant flow of traffic which conflicts with pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders and much of the road system is derestricted. ST7 is likely to contribute further to the problems that cyclists face in the Parish
- National Planning Policy Framework Ministry of Housing, Communications and Local Government. February 2019 Paragraph 104 ↩
- City of York Local Plan Pre-Publication Draft Regulation 19 Consultation, February 2018 Policy SS 9 p 243 ↩
- City of York Local Plan Annex 19 Site Selection Paper 147 ↩
- Please refer to Planning Inspectorate Report APP/C2741/W/15/3135274 ↩
- City of York Local Plan Pre-Publication Draft Regulation 19 Consultation February 2018 p47 para 3.49 ↩