Aireborough Grapevine 3

A number of things have happened during the August holiday period regarding progress towards a Leeds Site Allocation Plan for Aireborough  here is our latest Airebrough Grapevine.

SAP Hearings Scheduled for October

The Planning Inspector Hearings for the Leeds Site Allocation Plan, including the proposed housing and employment sites in Aireborough, will be heard in October 2017.  There are two Inspectors, Claire Sherratt DIP URP MRTPI, and Louise Gibbons BA Hons MRTPI.  The hearings will be held mainly in the Civic Hall, Leeds; representatives speaking for Aireborough are

Jennifer Kirkby, Chair ANDF
Clive Woods, Chair ACS

The Inspectors have organized the hearings by the key matters that people want to see changed.  So as well as hearings on the different areas of Leeds eg Aireborough, there are also hearings on Community Involvement, Green Belt, Green Space, Compliance with the Core Strategy, and Infrastructures amongst others.  A list of the Matters to be heard is here.  The Public can attend hearings, and a list of dates and speakers is here, but is still subject to alteration as so many people want to make changes to the SAP; the list of speakers for each topic is informative.

The Inspectors have also been asking Leeds City Council to clarify a number of things about their SAP.  The Council submit the Site Allocation Plan as being Sound and in compliance with all legislation on sustainability.  The latest questions from the Inspectors are about why the Council has submitted the SAP, when they are running a Selective Core Strategy Review where the housing numbers are lower in the 2012 – 2028 planning period.  The questions include the following,

“If the selective review were to conclude that the annual housing requirement is lower going forward than set out in the adopted Core Strategy, is there potential that land may be released from the Green Belt through the SAP to meet the requirements of the adopted CS, that may not have been necessary had the selective review concluded first. ”

The Council’s answer was due on 4th September.   You can follow all progress on the hearings, including evidence, timetables, and answers to questions here under Examination News.

Progress on Selective Core Strategy Review

The ANDF have been party to a new Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) that Leeds has been running since February this year.  The latest information is that the housing need for the period 2017 – 2033 is 55,296 (3,456 pa), with an estimate for a scenario with high economic growth at 60,528 (3,783).  (Note the current housing target of 70,000 is in the plan period 2012 – 2028.)

These numbers and the SHMA report are still being worked on.  However, it is reported that Leeds has a shortfall in housing type for older people and smaller homes that people can afford to purchase.  The issue of social homes (aka ‘Affordable’ homes) is also being looked at.

The SHMA is looking at each Housing Market Characteristic Area, including Aireborough, for how the housing stock varies from what is needed.   The ANDF have given the consultants our Housing Needs Survey 2016, where this was looked at;  our Aireborough findings also noted the need for homes for older people and young couples.

In July, the Council also conducted a consultation to ask what else should be reviewed in the Core Strategy.  The ANDF and others included the Green Belt Review, and Strategic Infrastructure, community, green and social on the list.  This too is still being reviewed by the Council.  An update report is here.

Five Year Land Supply Causes Serious Issues for Residents

It is important for a Local Authority to maintain a five-year supply of land that is available and viable to be developed, if they do not, then Developers can apply to build on any site of their choosing that is then considered for sustainability.   If the Council say it is not sustainable, the Developer can appeal, and many do, causing considerable cost to the Council and the ‘Ratepayers’ of Leeds.

In the Summer of 2016 it was confirmed that Leeds City Council, no longer had a 5 year land supply.  This, in a large part was owing to their over ambitious 70,000 housing target .  It is also down to LCC not meeting their 2012-2017 housing target; actual build is 13,824  when it should have been 18,300.  However, it is also due to Developers who do not build on the planning permissions they have been given, or who build more slowly than expected; this is an ‘unfairness’ in the system that Developers take full advantage of, and which the Government has not rectified.

The unfortunate result of this for residents of Leeds, is that LCC now has to

  • increase its annual housing supply due to the 70,000 annual target from 3,660, to 4,700 pa
  • make up the 4,476 shortfall
  • and receives a penalty for not having a 5yr land supply of a 20% buffer

That means that the current available and viable land supply needed between 2017 and 2022 is 33,571. We are now in the realms of ‘Soviet Tractor Statistics’, for some LA’s that is more than a 16 year housing target.

The cost of this to communities by way of regeneration and sustainability is now potentially very serious, and at the root of it lies the over ambitious 70,000 housing target, that communities said was unachievable, together with an NPPF that favours volume Developers and their legal teams over communities.

Leeds City Council needs to get its housing target down to sensible levels and consider more carefully its approach to spatial planning as well as how it involves communities through Neighbourhood Plans – that is what should be in the Core Strategy Review.  The Government needs to consider the power of volume Developers in its Housing White Paper, and do as they have said ‘Fix Our Broken Housing Market’, by including communities and proper town planning in decision making.

Progress on Aireborough Neighbourhood Plan

The Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum has always considered the Evidence Base on Aireborough used for the Leeds Core Strategy (CS) as ‘out of date’ .   The CS focussed on the City Centre, whilst outer areas such as Aireborough were shunted to the ‘margins of consciousness’ with fundamental details of spatial planning missed.

In essence Aireborough has been deemed a Major Settlement which could take urban extensions (two housing extension and an employment extension at the Airport), but very little else was planned by way of infrastructure, green space, landscape and ecology to support such a plan.  We understand that this is time consuming for the Council, but this is where the value of Neighbourhood Planning and local knowledge should come into its own.

We have now completed the research to update the evidence we felt was missing, and have the following reports from which to move on to outlining potential policies for the Neighbourhood Plan.

Greenmasterplan Framework Baseline, 2015, AECOM
Aireborough Ecology and Biodiversity, 2016, Richard Wilson Ecology
Aireborough Housing Needs, 2016, ANDF
Aireborough Landscape Character and Value , 2017, Tom Lonsdale Placecraft
Aireborough Urban Character , 2017, The Urban Glow

We would like to thank everyone who has contributed time and funds to getting this work done – and there are a large number from across Aireborough. Our thanks also to Darren Sanderson Photography for the Landscape Photography Project that has provided many of the photographs for these reports.

The next step will be to pull together teams to look at policies in different areas, if you would like to be involved let us know  Given the context we outline in this Grapevine you can hopefully see how necessary the Neighbourhood Plan is.

Bradford Core Strategy

The CS for Bradford 2014- 2030 was adopted on the 18 July 2017 with 39 votes for and 38 against.   The plan has a target of 41,500 new homes,  1,300 of them in Menston and Burley primarily on Green Belt.  More are planned for Ilkley and Addingham.   More information on Bradford’s next steps here.

Working With CPRE and Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance

The ANDF has been working with CPRE over the summer to look at how to improve spatial planning in Local Plans in West Yorkshire.  Local Authorities concentrate too much on housing provision and too little on the provision of everything else needed to make a place ‘liveable’.    CPRE will be attending the Leeds SAP hearings to give evidence.

The ANDF is also affiliated to Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance who have been raising funds to finance a Barrister to represent community groups at Plan hearings regarding the Green Belt.   YGA has appointed planning barrister Jenny Wigley of No5 Chambers to represent them at the forthcoming Leeds SAP hearings.   The key areas the Barrister will be challenging are

  • failure of the plan to properly and comprehensively review the Green Belt and its use
  • the exceptional circumstances (a legal phrase for ‘reasons’) allowing land to be removed from the Green Belt.

If you would like to donate to YGA to fund the Barrister to support Aireborough and other areas of Leeds then their website is here.

Photograph of Guiseley Centre Darren Sanderson Photography.