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Monks Cross Retail Expansion would overturn Core Strategy Submission

6 February 2012

Proposals for the expansion of Monks Cross have ‘no public mandate’ and would lead to seven years’ of public consultation over York’s future being ‘thrown overboard’ claims a leading environmental group.

York Environment Forum has lodged an official objection to the plans for additional retail space at Monks Cross, stating that approval of the applications would imply ‘a radical change of policy’ by City of York Council and force the Core Strategy Submission for the Local Development Framework (LDF) to be resubmitted for public consultation and possibly a public enquiry.

‘The policies in the Core Strategy Submission have been subject to extensive public consultation and have been agreed by the Council,’ said Environment Forum spokesman Philip Crowe. ‘The Monks Cross expansion represents a total reversal of the approach advocated. Any significant changes, such as this, require the whole thing to be withdrawn and the process undergone again, otherwise the council is throwing overboard the backing of its electorate as being of no account.’

The document is shortly to be presented for public examination by a government inspector. If the LDF is not passed soon, York will be subject to National Planning Policy Framework guidelines – dubbed ‘a developer’s charter’ – undermining years of effort to produce a tailor-made plan for York that protects its special qualities.

Philip Crowe, on behalf of the York Environment Forum, has drawn up a detailed list of references from City of York Council’s Draft Local Plan (currently in place), the LDF City Centre Area Action Plan, the ‘York: New City Beautiful’ report and the LDF Core Strategy Submission to support the Forum’s case (see ‘Reports’). All of the references emphasise the importance of the city centre as a focus for retail activity and advocate a sequential approach to retail development with the Castle/Piccadilly area and Stonebow taking priority, followed by York Central (the ‘teardrop’).

‘There is widespread recognition both at local and national level that out-of-town retail developments have had a detrimental effect on the viability of nearby town centres,’ said Mr Crowe. ‘The City Council recognised this years ago and has consistently opposed further significant out-of-town retail expansion, concentrating on ensuring that the city centre remains a dynamic driver of the local economy.

‘The Council now seeks to abandon these policies at a stroke. If it is determined to drive this project forward regardless of the consequences, it would call into question the purpose of the planning system, the relevance of the councillors who approved policies in the past and bring the present administration into disrepute, as well as being totally undemocratic.’

Contact for interview: Philip Crowe, tel. 01904 621220

Press contact: Kate Lock, tel 07792 633984; email Kate@klockworks.co.uk

Further information

  1. The Core Strategy Submission states that ‘highly accessible retail locations’ will be considered provided that they ‘will not have an unacceptable impact on the City Centre’.  The Council’s own professional advisors, GVA (who produced the Retail Study that forms part of the evidence base) have stated that the city centre will lose 15-17 per cent of trade. Campaigners fear that losses will not only be economic: the knock-on effect on York’s culture, vibrancy and heritage could be profound, while district and local shopping facilities (which the Core Strategy Submission states its support for) could be decimated.
  2. The Core Strategy also states that ‘the amount of comparison floorspace in out-of-centre retail destinations will not be expanded’. However, the combined proposals from Oakgate and USS would, if given the go-ahead, create nearly half a million square feet of new floor space, equivalent in size to more than eight football pitches.
  3. The proposals for the expansion of Monks Cross also raise very serious concerns about traffic generation and pollution and the impact on York’s carbon footprint and ecological footprint. As such they fly in the face of other Council policies such as the Climate Change Framework and Action Plan and the emerging Low Emission Strategy, as well as the Sustainable City chapter of the overarching Strategy for York, a 30-year vision for the city produced by Without Walls.
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