Planning & Sustainable Development
City of York Council
20 October 2003
Germany Beck Development objection
I believe that you still are the planning officer responsible for this proposal.
I could raise many objections to their latest proposal for the development of Germany Beck. However, I will confine myself to a single comment for the moment. The modified application refers to the ‘so-called battle of Fulford’. There is no serious doubt about the battle’s existence or location. As evidence, I have extracted 2 telling phrases from an earlier study carried out for the developers. (The document is part of the Sites and Monuments Record with a ref 261)
I attach a copy of my recent letter to the developers. I have had no reply and have consequently taken legal advice. I spoke to the CoYC solicitor who gave the opinion that it was acceptable for developers to spin information to suit their purposes. I am going to see if we can test this view in Court as I would be appalled to discover that it was acceptable to conceal and misrepresent information presented as part of a planning application.
I have reason to believe that strong support for the case for further investigation will soon be forthcoming from Battlefield Trust and/or English Heritage. I hope this will arrive in time to be incorporated into your advice to Councillors.
Objecting in detail and principle to the proposed development of Germany Beck
The battle of Fulford
This neglected battle was fought on this site on 20 September 1066. That is accepted by all authorities and is accepted by the developers advisors in the work deposited with the Sites & Monuments Record, although the current application now attempts to cast some doubt on this.
I have been conducting relevant research for the last decade and organising a community group for almost three years. We have collected over 3,000 items which are being analysed by York Archaeological Trust. My attempts to consult and cooperated with the developers have been ignored or rebuffed.
The work of the community group continues in those areas not controlled by the developers. It is unacceptable that access to the site should be denied and the lack of evidence be presented as proof that evidence does not exist. It is untenable for them to claim that the appropriate work has been done in the face of the expert criticism of the relevance of the work.
After consultation with English Heritage and the Battlefield Trust an appropriate way to investigate the site was suggested. However, the recent archaeological work conducted in the area where the developers propose to build a flood reservoir was not conducted in the recommended way. Before any building work is undertaken it is vital that the site is properly explored.
I note that this latest version of the application to build along Germany Beck has changed the traffic consultant. I regret that they have not addressed the major criticisms of fact and interpretation I raised following that study. The figures provided in the latest version are impossible to assess as they do not explain the basis for the percentage calculations.
The database for all the calculations is now so out of date that a new survey must be conducted to assess the impact of the proposed access road. I would like to see their report subject to an authoritative, independent audit.
I simply cannot reconcile the claims within the application in any way with my own contact with the Environment Agency. One of us is seriously misinformed. I would like some clear statement from the Environment Agency themselves as an annex within the application to verify the source of their Environmental assertions and reassurances.
Duty of Care
I have been so alarmed at the continued inaccuracies and questionable assumptions made in the application that I sought legal opinions. I wanted to know if the developers and their agents have a due of care to report accurately.
I first consulted one of COYC’s legal officers who was unwilling to be quoted. Their opinion however was supported by one of a senior, York solicitor who said that no duty of care is attached to the claims made in an application. This is an unacceptable situation.
In the absence of such a legal obligation on the developers, which I am amazed does not underpin the whole basis of planning law, I suggest that independent experts be called in to assess the impartiality and accuracy of the information given in the application.
Repeated attempts have been made to cooperate with the developers to allow the research work to go ahead before any plan was finalised. Far from cooperating, the developers and their agents have largely ignored the contacts. Even where cooperation was mandated by COYC the letter, rather than the spirit of cooperation was respected.
As they will not allow the necessary work to go ahead, the development proposal cannot be accepted. The research must precede any design work.
I accept the need to provide housing as well as to protect our heritage.
But the developers have not undertaken the necessary archaeological work and have refused to cooperate with the Lottery funded, community group to carry out this work. I have no confidence that this unique site will be properly investigated by the developers or their agents.
The battlefield archaeology work must be carried out before any building work is started. The fragmentary evidence lies on or near the surface and would not be observed by the proposed ‘watching brief’.
The current development plan is completely unsympathetic to the site of the battle and would completely destroy the evidence and the context of the battle forever.
I would therefore ask the Council to reject the current application.