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Moors residents vote to ban estates
RESIDENTS have overwhelmingly voted to ban large-scale developments across their parish, in a referendum which could be replicated in thousands of villages across Britain.
Hundreds of villagers in Ampleforth, beside the North York Moors, turned out to signal their opposition to housing estates in the first such public vote in the country.
Ryedale District Council oversaw the referendum, which asked electors if they wished to see a maximum development limit of four dwellings imposed on all established green field sites in the parish.
The vote saw a 32 per cent turnout of the 882 electors, with 228 residents (87 per cent) voting for the limit and 35 opposing it.
Dozens of residents called for the referendum last month, after David Wilson Homes submitted a planning application to Ryedale District Council for 29 homes in a field off Station Road in the village.
Residents said they feared the application would pave the way for further large-scale developments and that the coalition’s Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was “little more than a developers’ charter”.
Villagers also fear the district council’s new local development framework will give the green light to developers to target available sites in Ampleforth by labelling it a service village, as it has schools, a pub and a shop.
Referendum organiser Jo Priestman said most villagers would still welcome appropriate piecemeal housing developments.
She said: “Our representatives on district and parish councils now have a very strong mandate to refuse attempts by planning officials and big companies to impose unnecessary growth using phoney, bureaucratically-imposed labels such as service village as an excuse. We say democracy must be allowed to protect us from the pointless ruination of our precious green spaces.”
Ryedale councillor John Clark applauded residents for their initiative.
He said: “I think the residents were right to do it and right to be cynical and worry about the NPPF.”
Simon Parker, director of the think-tank New Local Government Network, said that, while councils would strive to avoid such referendums due to the Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme, Ampleforth could become a template for other areas.
He said: “It is a really interesting example of local democracy and I am sure we will see a lot more of this, with referendums becoming part of the negotiations between residents and councils.”
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said it was in favour of local democracy of all kinds.