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Consultation chaos for PRP's New Osbaldwick

The public consultation process for PRP Architects' planned urban village of New Osbaldwick has descended into disarray, the AJ has learnt.

The proposals - for a 540unit 'exemplar scheme' in York for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation - have met with determined opposition from the area's MP and residents of the surrounding settlements.

The hostility to PRP's proposals has included heckling at meetings and an anonymous leafleting campaign that falsely claimed the site is home to a rare breed of bird.

However, both the practice and the London-based foundation are committed to pushing through the proposals with or without the support of the local population.

The site's owner, York City Council, approached the foundation in 1999 to create an exemplar for housing construction and development.

But local MP John Greenway said there is still 'massive opposition' to the plans, which are currently awaiting outline planning permission. He accused the foundation of failing to address local people's concerns about the number and density of houses and the proposed transport routes into the settlement.

'Residents involved with the consultation process were worried about being ignored and that is what has happened, ' Greenway said. 'People made it clear they wanted the project redesigned and it's not even been considered.'

PRP Architects admitted there are 'real problems'. Project architect Quentin Andrews said local opponents were far more vocal than had been expected.

'There are a vast number of action groups and very little agreement, ' he said. 'There was a lot of heckling in meetings and very vocal opposition. If this was supposed to be an exemplar of public consultation, then it has certainly backfired.'

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's associate director, David Utting, confirmed there had been strong opposition to the project but insisted all the parties were committed to 'ploughing ahead'.

'We had a problem because some of the opponents have refused to get involved with the consultation process, ' he said. 'I guess there is always the risk that the more information you give to local people, the more they have to object to.'

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