Huge development beckons for York after marathon planning meeting (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Huge development beckons for York after marathon planning meeting
9:01pm Thursday 17th May 2012 in News
YORK should have a new John Lewis store within 18 months and a new stadium within three years, after councillors backed one of the city’s biggest ever developments.
Proposals by developer Oakgate to build a new community stadium, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer at Monks Cross won planning permission tonight, after a marathon debate lasting more than eight hours.
Councillors approved the plan by 11 votes to four, after one of the longest and most well-attended meetings in City of York Council history.
Supporters of the development spoke of their delight afterwards, but opponents said an appeal has not been ruled out.
Richard France, spokesman for Oakgate, said the John Lewis store should open in autumn next year, the Marks & Spencer store the following spring, and the stadium in season 2014/15.
He said: “It is a vote in favour of jobs, growth and a legacy for professional, amateur and community sport.”
James Alexander, City of York Council leader, said after the meeting: “York has shown itself to be open for business and today, we have secured a future for professional sport in this city.”
He said an announcement was likely soon on more investment for the city-centre, particularly around the market.
Tim Atkins, the council’s stadium project manager, said: “It’s been a long time coming, but I am very happy. It is the right decision.”
He said the council must now wait to see whether Communities Secretary Eric Pickles would ‘call in’ the application for review.
Sophie Hicks, York City FC’s community and communications director, said: “It is an historic day in the club’s history.”
She praised the Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors, all of whom voted yes, but criticised York Conservative leader Ian Gillies, who she said had led his party’s three planning committee members to vote no.
She said club manager Gary Mills was delighted with the decision, and now wanted to complete an excellent week for City by winning promotion back to the Football League at Wembley on Sunday, following the FA Trophy success at the same venue last Saturday.
Club chairman Jason McGill added: “We said when we came in that we wanted to secure a new stadium and to win promotion and now, what a wonderful eight days in the history of the club this could be.”
John Guildford, of York City Knights Rugby League Club, who will share the stadium with the football club, said: “It’s a great result and critical for the club. There is no plan b.”
Andrew Mills, development manager for John Lewis, said: “We are very pleased. It’s great we can bring investment to York.”
Neil Hunter, of City of York Athletics Club, said the decision safeguarded the future of athletics in York in time for the Olympics.
There was loud applause when the yes vote was announced, but critics said the matter may not be over and city-centre traders are tonight considering their position.
Green councillor Dave Taylor said the planning committee had “chucked out of the window” every planning policy it had had for years, and he said he said it was almost inevitable that someone would appeal to the Secretary of State to reconsider the proposals.
Adam Sinclair, of Mulberry Hall, said: “We have won the planning argument, the economic argument, the environmental argument and the sustainability argument. It is clear there is going to be severe and permanent economic damage and councillors have chosen to proceed, notwithstanding that.”
An independent report by Drivers Jonas Deloitte had said the development would cost the city centre £50 million a year but some councillors said the negatives of the development had been exaggerated.
Around 170 people attended the meeting, which was moved from the Guildhall to The Park Inn Hotel, and brought forward from 4pm to 10am, to cope with the increased interest and attendance.
Around 40 campaigners, sports representatives, politicians, developers and businessmen and women spoke for or against the plans.
Critics said they went against the council's own stated policies and would harm the city centre, but proponents said the positives outweighed the negatives.