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Before noting my specific objections to the revised  Germany Beck reserved matters application and also the renewal of outline permission, I want to make some comments on the process that has brought us to this point. My purpose is to show that there have been serious flaws and omissions in this process. Vital information was ignored that the rules demand should have been considered. Furthermore there are numerous recent changes that should lead to refusal of planning permission.

We have reached the present situation only because serious errors were made which challenge the legitimacy, and possibly the legality, of the process (part one). This has left many issues in need of a realistic re-assessment (part two). The National Planning Policy Framework is the new and cogent document against which planning decisions should be made. Because this document recognises that existing plans can be reassessed, it is also examined here (part three).

All of the information set out in this lengthy response has direct relevance to the planning matters under consideration for both the detailed, or reserved, matters and any consideration to grant an extension. I have set out my objections in three distinct parts.

·         Part One deals with the process itself and why I do not feel that this application can be accepted as it stands since there are important, underlying issues which must be addressed before attending to the detail (or reserved matters). Part One also serves to show that I have presented all the information necessary for the planning process to work properly at the appropriate time. But it was not considered, or was dealt with incorrectly, during this planning process. (So there is  some overlap between the sections of this document.)

·         The second part deals with the many issues to which I want to raise as either detailed or principled objections, the latter based on the failure of the applicant to deal with many matters they are supposed to address and in some cases to change their design to such a degree that should make any earlier permission invalid. There are numerous recent material changes that should lead to refusal of planning permission.  At the very least, the sustainable development guidelines set out in the Planning Framework (2012) clearly allows planning authorities to require changes to an outline plan when such changes are made. (Please note that much of the information that should have been considered is in part one so they could have been considered earlier).

·         Part three looks to the future and the planning context that is outlined in the new framework – this will show how pitifully the present application stands up to inspection in the light of how the Government thinks planning should be done. The clarity of this short document really does expose the shortcomings of the existing plan. The proposed plans have to be refused on grounds of the planning guidance in the NPPF as further set out in Part Three.

Adopting this layout will, I hope, put the present stage of the planning process into its proper context. There is some overlap with the topics but this is necessary in order to illustrate that issues have been overlooked by the planning process and to ensure that it is now properly examined.

The changed context

The political environment in which this matter is being considered has also changed significantly and the application should recognise this. Once again I must point out that the applicants would have you believe that the wider political context is irrelevant to this consideration. In this country it is the politicians who determine what is relevant within the rule of law and my purpose in recapping some aspects of the planning process is in the hope that the political process will assert its rights. When mistakes are recognised they must be rectified.

The examples of the Bloody Sunday and Hillsborough Inquiries have revealed that what passed for due process was in fact no such thing. Other key instruments of power including Parliament, the banks and the press have been found wanting in the intervening years since outline approval was granted. We are, I hope, moving into an era of openness and integrity where the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law will be obeyed.

It is in this changed political context that I now feel able to appeal to the Planning Committee to review how much information was overlooked or misrepresented during the planning process. My appeal is that they make decisions that will ensure this planning application is fully reviewed.

It is not only the political context that has shifted. The economic context has changed and there is a much greater awareness of the changing natural environment. The latter has been recognised.

The EIA rules (2011) can be applied since they are explicit that matters of flooding and heritage allow applications to be re-considered. The situation along Germany Beck qualifies and passes this test with exceptional flooding and some outstanding heritage.

·         In the case of the former, there is now a much greater willingness to recognise the issues caused by climate change and especially the revised climatic patterns.

·         In the case of the latter, the existence of the major 1066 battle of Fulford precisely where it is proposed that the access road should run is now beyond any serious doubt.

The planning authority is empowered, and should, demand changes to the plan or should refuse permission.

The Planning Framework also encourages planning authorities to seek “opportunities to facilitate the relocation of development, including housing, to more sustainable locations where flooding patterns are better recognised. (para 100) I would encourage the Planning Committee to follow this suggestion.

An apology

I must apologise for the lack of polish to my paper but the timetable does not allow for the work required. As this has to be done in my spare time it inevitably lacks all then cross-referencing that I would like to include but I would need 6 months to write a proper response for which I again apologise. I object most strongly that the applicant can dictate the timetable by submitting changes whenever they like and impose such a workload on people working to serve the public good, such as myself.

The time allowed for objections is suitable for a small, domestic development but totally inadequate for major developments. I am no NIMBY but am seeking to ensure that those who will make the decisions on behalf of the public are well-informed and are not misled.

The value of public consultations

The timetable for ‘objections’ belittles the role of those who know the area and have valuable, accurate information which they can give to those responsible for deciding these matters. I do not see my primary role as an objector. What I am seeking to do is ensure that accurate facts are set forward. I see my role as attempting to ensure that an informed decision can be taken. It is only the omissions and misrepresentations that have been provided by the applicants that has turned me into an ‘objector’.  (My early correspondence with the applicant reveals that I recognised that we need both heritage and houses and tried to work with them.)

Members of the public with specialist knowledge can make a significant contribution to assessing any planning application. The planning process has become too formalised with Quango consultees being used in what looks like a ‘box-ticking’ exercise with local experts being marginalised in the way their work is considered. The expertise and hard work by concerned members of the public should not be overlooked. Their work deserves a place at the very heart of all deliberations about this planning application.

The new planning framework places so much more emphasis on the need for proper and timely consultation with the community rather than the confrontational process which works so much in favour of the applicant. What I have provided here must be incorporated into the planning consideration and not ignored and marginalised as it has been in the past. With planning resources so limited, COYC should welcome and encourage the role of the public as inspectors and examiners of all planning proposals.

What next?

Please enforce the principle embodied in the planning process for proper public consultation. The process can only work as intended when proposals, observations and objections are presented alongside each other. It is the failure to link the two that has undermined the validity of the process so far. (The Planning Framework – see part 3 - has specific suggestions that all information should be up-to-date and brought together.)

The community, through the planning process, transfers a substantial privilege to the applicant. The community, in exchange, has the right to expect that its concerns will be heard and where necessary accommodated. The views of the community must be heard and addressed in any plan for the area of Germany Beck.

Because this has not happened (part one) and mistakes have been made, it is inappropriate to move forward with the present process as many of the substantive issues I will raise in Part Two were not assessed in accordance with the rules. Given the time that has elapsed it is necessary to look at the Planning Framework which dramatically simplifies and brings clarity to the key issues in planning. The present application fails so badly and so comprehensively when subject to a fresh examination.

So I will argue that this application cannot be dealt with as a matter of settling a few details at this stage as the applicants would wish, but must respect the many rules which require key environmental (including flooding) and heritage issues to be discussed first.

My 34 points are summarised next with a detailed discussion in each part of this submission. I need to be sure that there can be no pretence that the necessary information for a sensible decision has not been presented.

Charles Jones

December 2012

For further information see

·         fulfordbattle.com,

·         savefulford.org and

·         fulfordtapestry.info


As a footnote can I add that the claim, repeated by the applicants, that I formed the Fulford Battlefield Society in 2002 in order to oppose the development, is quite wrong. A constituted society was indeed formed during 2002 at the behest of the National Lottery so that a substantial grant towards the on-going project could be given. However York Archaeological Trust brought together various interested parties during 2000 and I was one of a number of people who were already looking for the likely site of the battle. My own research began when I moved to Fulford in 1982 with the help of the Guild of Voluntary Guides. I resent the attempts that have been made to impugn my motivations – I also resent the way the applicant launched so many personal attacks on me during the public inquiry.  Such behaviour suggests to me that the applicants are afraid to address the facts that I am trying to present.


Summary of issues

These are the questions, points and objections that I am raising. I have put the reference to the particular section


1        Documents not supplied in evidence

I explain that documents I sought were not provided. Furthermore many I found to be flawed or incomplete. I have still not been able to obtain essential information. There is a need to provide resources to undertake an audit of the applicant’s paperwork because a decision cannot be made without all the information.

2        Visibility of information provided by the public

There can be no justification for proceeding with considering this application until the matter has been seen by the public – they will have to live with the consequences. The ‘crowd-mind’ can assist the planning process  - and the rules say they should be consulted. 

3        Weapons finds

The applicant’s archaeological work was not appropriate for a battlefield.  Why were the exceptional finds by other parties ignored? Why was some of the relevant information not reported in the planning committee? Why did nobody tell those who had to make the decisions that the applicant’s work was not relevant and contradicted the findings from the battlefield research? Why was the extensive landscape and other physical evidence not presented to the planning committee?

4        Stopping up orders

When I asked the Government office that granted the ‘stopping-up order’ (for the access road) why  they had ignored my objection that no archaeological work had been conducted before granting their order, they told me that their information was that the area had already been investigated. This assurance was wrong and I want to be sure that the planning authorities are aware of this. COYC should not allow the permission to stand given that it was granted without any prior archaeological investigation. This should be subject to a fresh application.

5        Work that should have been addressed

When applying for an extension of time for the Germany Beck development, the applicants were told by the COYC planning officers to address the issues raised in the report called Finding Fulford. This requirement was completely ignored, except to claim that such work would be unnecessary. The applicants did not address the matters. You should back your officers and  decline the application until the applicants do what they have been instructed to do.

6        The Environmental Study

At the heart of the original planning process was a deeply flawed study which suggested that Germany Beck was probably a relatively modern ditch. The wording of the applicant’s report was masterful since it took care not to deny that the beck was a glacial channel carved during the last ice age because their own work demonstrated its antiquity. But this unexamined falsehood has been used to persuade the planning inspector, and others, that the beck might not have been there at the time of the battle of Fulford in 1066. I have challenged the COYC officers and English Heritage to expose this gross misrepresentation and this document must be thrown out and a truthful document supplied in its place.

7        The geology that made Germany Beck

Very great care must be exercised before any decision is made to destroy Germany Beck. So I would like to take this final opportunity to ensure that those responsible for making decisions about this landscape have understood the magnificent forces that have shaped Germany Beck. The real drama that led to the formation of Germany Beck and the River Ouse and the moraines that are responsible for the location of the city of York are explained.

8        Planning Creep

I also strongly object to the ‘planning creep’ that is manifest in this application – Ignoring known issues and the many material changes to the plan that was approved demand a new application for permission. The destruction of Stone Bridge, ignoring the buried hydrology,  the omission of the pumping station from new plans, the anticipatable traffic overload and blocking of the ring road, lack of through access required by plans and many other issues. The inadequacies of the present plan must lead to the applications being refused permission.

9        Common Land

This is included as it supports my thesis that evidence has been ignored and rights trampled during the planning process. COYC has been passive or a party to these undertakings and would invite the elected members to address what has been done in their name. I was able to document that I had used the land over which the access road is planned to run without any hindrance for over 20 years. My evidence provided a sufficient case of itself to establish this as a village green. During cross examination none of the evidence was challenged – it was simply ignored when the decision was made. However, my evidence was completely ignored.

10   Other matters that were ignored by the public inquiry and the planning process

There were many issues raised in the ‘call in’ letter that led to the public inquiry. I addressed the issues but the inspector ignored many of the issues set out in his mandate. I have included them in part one as they should have been addressed and I suggest, must still be addressed. For example the call-in letter asked if burying the battle site could be considered ‘in-situ’ preservation! The economic value of the undisturbed site was supposed to be addressed (much more on this in part 3): The type of housing, a proper debate about green belt, the appropriateness of living on a flood plain and a critical assessment of all paperwork should have been a part of the inquiry. So I have included the evidence I provided in the expectation that the planning system will now address these outstanding issues especially as there have not just been a material change with regard to the archaeology but also with regard to amongst others the green belt, the conservation area and the EA flood risk predictions.

11   The planning rules that should have prevented the heritage of the battle site

The question address in section 11 is ‘why were so many clear rules ignored?’ My paper sets out the relevant rules regarding heritage. They should have been considered and made the battle field safe from development if the rules had been applied and the NPPF in part 3 is equally clear. My contention is that the rules must now be applied because that is the law. But it would also be interesting to know why the rules were so easily set-aside.

12   Another perspective on the way the planning process works

If you have not experienced what happens then this light-hearted narrative about the site visit at the end of the public inquiry is worth reading. Is it really sensible to allow any process to stand which has included such behaviour by the applicants?

PART TWO – detailed objections

13   Water voles and wildlife

Germany Beck has been an established and thriving habitat for water voles which has been visited by Yorks Wildlife, Council Officers and specially trained Police officers to investigate the destruction of the habitat. I object to the Germany Beck application on the grounds that it has failed to take account of the diverse wildlife that uses the beck as a conduit to the extensive natural hinterland including Heslington Common.

14   Bats

This is another grave defect in the process. A proper, credible survey of the importance of the Germany Beck corridor should have been incorporated into initial planning decision: My first set of questions to the applicant’s witness at the public inquiry asked why a proper bat survey had not been done, why none of the existing references to bats in the area had been mentioned in their submission and what research they had done to allow them to ignore the obligation to assess this BEFORE any decision was made? The proposed access junction would completely obliterate this important wildlife corridor to an extent that mitigation is impossible.

15   Stone Bridge

I was assured at the Public Inquiry that there was no need for archaeology on this bridge since it was not going to be destroyed. This is a very old bridge and cannot be destroyed without a very thorough investigation and discussion. Such planning creep is not allowed. The proposed destruction requires  a full, new application.

16   Obliteration of the ancient ford from which Fulford derives its name

The area designated for the junction has been scoured and eroded by the Beck as it adjusted its course to pass though the gap now spanned by Stone Bridge. This is at the very heart of the battle of Fulford. This is the ford across the ‘ditch’ where the battle was fought. It  must also be subject to a full independent investigation of its archaeology before its fate is decided.

17   Green belt

The area where the access road is proposed has never been subject to proposals to remove it from green belt.  The inspector in his report claimed that it was a mistake or oversight that a small portion of green belt had kept its full protection, when nearby green belt land had its status reduced. The inspector argued that those charged with advising on the green belt must have recognised that this portion would be needed when the hinterland was developed. There is no rationale for such an assumption. I would ask the planning committee to reverse this fallacious assumption and not to accept the tautologous reasoning so far presented to justify the loss of this piece of green belt.

18   Archaeology

I object very strongly to the claims made in chapter 14.1.8 of the application for extension of time, and repeated in the reserved matters application, that there is no evidence for the battle of Fulford taking place along Germany Beck. A substantial body of evidence has been found and details published – in June 2012 it was the subject of a publication by the Royal Armouries. How could it have been possible for the planning process to ignore this extensive body of evidence?

19   Archaeological work that has been blocked

I have made several attempts to persuade the COYC archaeologist to use his authority to get the investigative work done in a timely fashion. I include extracts from two of my letters which plead with COYC to exert its authority to provide the facts needed for an informed decision by the planning process.  It would be inappropriate to take the application forward when a timely provision of the full picture could and should have been made available. It cannot be right to reward those who prevent inconvenient information being revealed.

20   Additional archaeological evidence

 A metal-detectorist found what is probably another metal reprocessing site to match those identified along the south side of the beck in 2011 in an area where finds were predicted but where we were not allowed to search. There is so much more to be uncovered.

21   Timetable for the work

It defies logic to allow heritage or environmental issues to be carried out AFTER permission has been granted. Logic and common sense both dictate that if these issues are likely to be important, and in the case of Germany Beck, this is already clear, the work had to be done before the application could be determined.

22   The threshold for Heritage Asset is low and the protection high

Can the applicants explain why they keep insisting that this site is not the site of the battle of Fulford when all informed observers recognise that Germany Beck is the probable site of the battle of Fulford. As far as I know, all the impartial observers recognise Germany Beck as the site of the battle. There is nothing in the rules that requires an asset to be proved. The burden of proof does not lie with the heritage asset – It is the applicant who has to show that their work will not destroy irreplaceable assets.  The planning system must re-assert this fundamental rule. After that, the threshold set out in all of the planning rules should be applied: Happily there is so much evidence for the battlesite that it will easily clear any sensible threshold of probability.

23   Flooding

I am still incredulous that a plan that was shown to be wrong and which presented data that was  demonstrably incorrect is still being considered as viable even when the new realities of ‘peak-rain’ have been manifesting themselves. The planning ‘experts’ and inspector rejected the evidence of local residents whose stories and images proved the initial plan was wrong. I have learnt to have no confidence in the models and expertise of those who attempt to predict floods at Fulford – and our archaeological work can help to explain how the landscape is changing and why they are getting it wrong. Do not ignore the evidence. The redesigned plan cannot be accepted because it is still wrong.

24   The cultural and economic value of site

The identified battlesite at Fulford has great cultural, environmental as well as significant economic potential. The site is little changed since 1066 and is fully accessible on public land and footpaths. When I guide people round the site I can tell them they are standing on the land surface where the English faced the Norse army 946 years ago. It would take very little to create a significant visitor attraction as this is such an important piece of our national story. As noted earlier, the planning system has omitted any assessment of the economic potential of Germany Beck. These gains must form a part of considerations about this site according to the correct planning process.

25   An alternative housing plan

I have worked extensively with the homeless charities Shelter and Crisis. I recognise that we need both heritage and houses which is why I was happy to cooperate with the developers when the housing was being planned. I was sad that they gradually revoked my access when I shared the emerging evidence with them. I offered an alternative proposal at the public inquiry, pointing out that the adjacent collection of affordable houses near the University, built mainly by housing associations, offered as many homes but occupied only a quarter of the land of the proposed development.  Rejecting this plan need not lead to a loss of future housing. Heritage and housing can co-exist.

26   Deliverability

The National Policy Planning Framework clarifies the position of old plans that are no longer relevant. The plan must be tested to see if it is still relevant and viable.

“To be considered deliverable, sites should be available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years and in particular that development of the site is viable. Sites with planning permission should be considered deliverable until permission expires, unless there is clear evidence that schemes will not be implemented within five years, for example they will not be viable, there is no longer a demand for the type of units or sites have long term phasing plans.”

Considering the above stipulations, an alternative plan for this area would make much more sense.

27   Summary of objections

PART THREE – the new National Policy Planning Framework

28   Where is the plan?

When so much in the past and future models for planning, one has to ask, where is the required plan? So much of the legitimacy for the original application was founded on the assumption that it fitted a legitimate plan. This veil of illusory legitimacy cannot hide the truth that this seems to be somebody’s pet project. Democratic control must be reasserted over the granting of the enormous privilege and financial gain that the community grants through the planning process.

29   The Roles of Planning

Because planning is for the future, it is important to address the roles of planning set out in the NPPF. The proposed plans does not meet crucial parts of the protection planning offers and should therefore be refused permission. That is a measure of how poor the plan and the process that has been followed until now has been. The applicant plan simple does not address the roles defined.

30     Planning principles

To emphasise the roles we are offered 12 planning principles against which the poor performance of the present plan can be measured.

31   Proactive action on flooding

Para 100 anticipates that there are some existing plans that might need to be revised in the light of revised recognition of flood risks : “where climate change is expected to increase flood risk so that some existing development may not be sustainable in the long-term, seeking opportunities to facilitate the relocation of development, including housing, to more sustainable locations.”

The modern messages is unambiguous - Revise the plan.

32   Noise pollution

One of the few times when the planning inspector seemed to attend to the problems raised by critics was when the problems of noise that will be broadcast from the access road was discussed. Attempts to raise the proposed access road even higher will only exacerbate and spread the noise pollution to the whole southern part of Fulford village.

33   Agricultural land use

I am not aware that the recommended assessments has been undertaken.

34   World Heritage application

The battle site was left out of the city’s application. Any prospect of future recognition will be serious damaged if an international heritage site is knowingly destroyed by a defective planning process.


All of these points can be pursued in the text sections below which expands and explains the contentions set out in these summaries.

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The author of the content is Charles Jones - fulfordthing@gmail.com   Last updated April 2015

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