Why Do Leeds Officers Think They Know Better Than The Public – Today’s Development Plans Panel Notes

alice_in_wonderlandWe will write a longer report on today’s events at Leeds Development Plans Panel, when we have digested all the information. The bottom line is that the proposed housing sites have passed, as they are, on to Executive Board to approve on 11th February. That is despite a general agreement that infrastructure needs have not been fully accessed. We may find out when the Public Consultation will happen on 11th Feb.

We must particularly thank Cllr Barry Anderson (Adel and Wharfedale) and Cllr John Procter (Wetherby) for representing Aireborough and putting our case. They made it very plain at the meeting today that Aireborough has had more than its fair share of house building and that measures should be taken to reduce the number in our area. They also asked that Developers should include infrastructure in their plans and they pointed out the problems of the A65.

Stand out points are

1) Officers have been speaking to Developers about sites; but have not been involving local communities through Neighbourhood Forums and Parish Council’s, or even taking full note of what was said from the 2013 consultation.

2) It is the Leeds Officer’s view, that Green Belt sites, such as that off Ings Lane (3026) do not have a significantly stong case for not being developed. Despite Government guidelines that green belt is not to be changed or developed unless there are exceptional circumstances.

3) It is the view of the Leaders of the Council, that Aireborough has to take it’s fair share of the aspirational 70,000 Leeds Housing target, and after all it is ONLY 3% of the 70,000 !! They do not accept that Aireborough has already taken its fair share with the over 2000 houses built here in the last 10 years . Nor are they concerned about overstretched infrastructure in Aireborough, as other places have the same issue.  This is despite the NPPF and Planning Inspector’s stipulation that housing had to go where it was needed and best suited to go !! (8,000 family houses are required and could be built on brownfield sites with much of the needed infrastructure in Leeds City Centre South – Leeds refuse to put this on their plans.)

4) At an earlier press conference by the Tory Group on the Council, Cllr Andrew Carter said that there were grave concerns about infrastructure needs and funding which amounted to at least £400m as Developers would not be funding this.  He said “Leeds Council is prepared to sacrifice the city’s environment and wreck it’s infrastructure to achieve that figure [70,000 target].”  The Labour Group accused the Tories of ‘electioneering’ and MP’s Stuart Andrew and Alec Shelbrooke of ‘misleading constituents’.

5) It was said at the start that this was a process to a plan, not the final plan, by the Chair.

The meeting was apparently ‘packed’, and many people were turned away.   Although not able to speak, many members of the public uttered the words ‘rubbish’ and ‘nonsense’ more than would usually be the case in a Council meeting.   They particularly denounced the idea that Leeds has involved neighbourhood planning groups in anyway in discussion, as they should have done.