More evidence of Leeds housing number blunder

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published new population statistics with a 2014 base. Previous most up to date data was based on 2012 figures and already showed Leeds’ and Bradford’s housing targets to be way too ambitious – and frankly unnecessary. At this point a Leeds target of c. 50,000 (down from 66,000) would have matched the ONS population data and mean that not one square metre of greenbelt land would need to be included in the Leeds Site Allocation Plans.

Annual household projections for Leeds and Bradford which are out today with a 2014 base show lower projections for household growth per annum for both Leeds and Bradford: –

Leeds  – a fall from 2,796 households  per annum to 2, 458 households per annum.

Bradford a fall from 1,793 households per annum to 1,509 households per annum.

These figures take into account a rise in UK household formation (although a fall in population increases),  due to a lower household size, which is down from an average of 2.32 to 2.21 people per household for Leeds.

This information was provided by Jennifer Kirkby of ANDF, and she goes on to state that her rough calculations suggest that this would further reduce Leeds’ housing target requirement by some 5,000 houses. This would suggest that a target of 45,000 would satisfy future housing need in Leeds, during the current plan period of 2012 to 2028.

Thank you for this information, Jennifer.

Meeting to set up legal representation fund for LCC Site Allocations hearing

WARD have announced a meeting of invited groups and key people to discuss the setting up of a legal representation fund enabling community groups to legally challenge excessive green belt use within the Site Allocations plan for Leeds.

Date: Friday, 29th July 2016

Venue: Emmott Arms Rawdon, upstairs meeting room

Time: 1900 hours. The meeting will last no longer than 2 hours.

The meeting will determine how funds should be raised and managed and set project plans as to how the money should be spent. At this stage it is anticipated that legal advice will need to be taken from a planning barrister, followed by his or her attendance at the hearing to represent the community. Funds required are expected to be at least £10,000.

WARD has taken this step due to the continuing and repeated refusal of Leeds City Council to pay any attention to the results of recent consultations, and their direct refusal to alter the direction of the Site Allocation proposals in the light of these community views.

WARD are working closely with SAVELEEDSGREENBELT.COM on this project with the intention of holding a further public meeting in Horsforth in respect of LCC’s intention to increase the size of green belt grab associated with proposals for site HG2-41 Strawberry Fields, located within Horsforth.

Clear “NO” from Leeds City Council on housing number revision

Meeting: W.A.R.D. and Leeds City Council: – Monday 23rd May 2016

The following persons are all involved in the development of Neighbourhood Plans and attended this meeting: –

Dr David Ingham – Rawdon Parish Councillor and member of Rawdon Neighbourhood Plan Working Group
Mrs. Jennifer Kirkby – Programme Manager, Airborough Neighbourhood Development Forum, Director, Friends of Parkinson’s Park CIC
Martin Hughes – Horsforth Town Councillor and leader Horsforth Neighbourhood Plan Working Group
George Hall – Community Planning Consultant; Lead representative of “Communities Group”; Former member of SHLAA Partnership & LCC Scrutiny Board Housing & Regeneration; Co-Author of LCC Town & Parish Council Planning Charter

Stuart Andrew MP and Greg Mulholland MP

For Leeds City Council (LCC): –

Cllr Richard Lewis – Executive Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning
Tom Riordan – Chief Executive, LCC
Tim Hill – Head pf Planning, LCC

This meeting was set up to allow us to ask a few questions: –

Why are LCC persisting with the 66,000 housing target in the light of: –

(a) DCLG Local Plans Expert group report March 2016 indicating Leeds (and Bradford) have a housing target of 500  plus per year above the annual average increase in household projections.
(b) 5 year land supply challenges by developers (costing rate payers considerable amounts at appeals)
(c) The 2017 housing number review promised by LCC (in April 2015) and targets already missed? The current plan is 25% (4 years) into the plan period 2012 – 2028.

Additionally we have concerns over:

(d) Flooding impacts and lack of comprehensive green belt review as recommended by Planning Inspectorate,  Inspector Thickett
(e) Claims by developers that brownfield is unviable
(f) Failure to plan for infrastructure – road congestion, transport facilities, school expansion, doctors, dentists, etc.
(g) A delayed SAP leading to developer competition for green field sites. Why has LCC included so much greenbelt (particularly in Guiseley, Rawdon and Horsforth) in Phase 1 of the SAP?
(h) What “exceptional circumstances” are being used by LCC to justify using greenbelt to meet high housing targets? What evidence is there to support this in contravention of the NPPF?
(i) Why are LCC not working with ANDF  over the development of their Neighbourhood Plan in the way the local group wants to develop their plan?

The answers were stunning, or not given.

There was a direct refusal to review the overall housing number, from which hangs so many (if not all) of the current planning problems for Leeds. Tim Hill insisted that the number of 66,000 must be maintained to push through to the final publication of Site Allocations. This was despite his comment about the current planning situation for Leeds feeling like “going down the plughole”. He shared “frustrations”, but was unprepared to do anything about them!

WARD fears that the SAP community consultation results will be ignored. When “going down the plughole” the way to stop that is to insert the plug; interrupt the flow and review the situation and change the course of the flow. We just do not understand why Leeds cannot do this! It looks as though a power higher up the chain is in control – The Leeds City Region is suggested as the driving force, as a result of the Norther Powerhouse approach.

Key questions like “exceptional circumstance” re green belt use were side stepped and remain unanswered.

A clear statement of refusal for LCC to help ANDF with their plan was based very much on the concept that LCC do not think ANDF are developing their plan in the way LCC likes! This is so contrary to NPPF it is mind-boggling.

So a most unsatisfactory meeting, but with Leeds showing their true colours now on these matters. Leeds is driving the planning dreadnought at the brick wall, and is not going to stop it, while our community has to sit in the back and wait for the inevitable crash and the damage that will be too late to avoid.

Failing to plan.

Planning to fail.


Martin Hughes – Treasurer, WARD




Government rejects right of planning appeal by Parish and Town Councils

So…………. the Government have rejected the call for Town and Parish Councils to be allowed to appeal planning applications. So much for Localism. Planning remains slanted towards the benefit of the developer. Something that is forced on the community whether they like it or not!

The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “Give parish councils the right to appeal planning decisions.”.

Government responded:

The Government places great importance on community involvement in the planning system. Parish councils have statutory rights to contribute their views in the planning process.

The planning system is centred on community involvement. Communities, including parish councils and individual members of the public, have statutory rights to become involved in the preparation of the Local Plan for their area, through which they can influence development in their area. The local community can also come together to produce a neighbourhood plan, which sets out how the community want to see their own neighbourhood develop. Neighbourhood plans are often initiated by parish councils. Local and neighbourhood plans form the basis for decisions on planning applications.

In addition to input on local plans and neighbourhood plans, which set out the local development strategy, communities are also able to make representations on individual planning applications. Interested parties can raise all the issues that concern them during the planning process, in the knowledge that the decision maker will take their views into account, along with other material considerations, in reaching a decision.

The right of appeal following the refusal of an application is an important part of a planning system which controls the ability of an individual to carry out their development proposals. The existing right of appeal recognises that, in practice, the planning system acts as a control on how an individual may use their land. As a result, the Government believes it is right that an applicant has the option of an impartial appeal against the refusal of planning permission. This existing right of appeal compensates for the removal of the individual’s right to develop.

However, the Government does not believe that a right of appeal against the grant of planning permission for communities, including parish councils, is necessary. The Government considers that communities already have opportunity to guide and inform local planning issues via Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans, and it would be wrong for them to be able to delay a development at the last minute, through a community right of appeal, when any issues they would raise at that point could have been raised and should have been considered during the earlier planning application process. The Government does not think that the planning system would benefit from the grant of a community right of appeal which would lead to added delay, uncertainty and cost for all those involved.

Department for Communities and Local Government

Click this link to view the response online:

The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.

The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee:

The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament

DCLG Report from Local Plans Expert Group confirms WARD’s continuing push for total housing number reduction in Leeds

This report concludes that Leeds City Council has made over- provision of more than 500 dwellings per annum when comparing actual annual housing provision in the Leeds Core Strategy against increase in household projections.
This is a long winded way of saying that the Leeds plan target of 66,000 dwellings is overstated by as much as 9,000 houses over the life of the plan (16 years). WARD (Wharfedale and Airedale Review Development) have been making this point for the last 5 years.
The Local Plans Expert Group (LPEG) (who prepared the report) was established by the Communities Secretary, Greg Clark and the Minister of Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP, in September 2015, with a remit to consider how local plan making can be made more efficient and effective.
Based on the remit of the committee, I suggest that their conclusion for Leeds is that a reduction on overall housing number will contribute to making local plan making more efficient and effective.
See page 11 map and study the green bit where Leeds is.…/…/Local-plans-report-to-governement.pdf

Petition for community appeal rights for planning

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) needs changing to allow community right of appeal and this could be led by allowing parish and town councils to lodge appeals against poor planning decisions. At present the appeal process is only available to the local planning authority and the developer submitting the plan. Where are the community rights of appeal?

Yorkshire Local Councils Associations has taken this up………….


To: Clerks and Chairmen of YLCA members.

Dear Clerk/Chairman


The lack of an appeal mechanism for local councils in the planning process has caused difficulties for a long time. This petition states that the planning system is unfair and is one of the few decision-making processes that gives no right of appeal to affected third parties. It calls on the Government to introduce a limited third party right of appeal by giving parish councils a right to appeal planning decisions to the Planning Inspectorate.

As your Council will be aware, under current rules, if a local planning authority refuses a planning application the applicant is allowed to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. If a planning authority approves an application, no one has the right to appeal. With the national presumption in favour of sustainable development throwing the planning system into disarray, in the interest of justice, the petition says that Government should give local councils the right to appeal planning decisions.

The petition needs to receive 10,000 signatures for the Government to respond. At the time of notifying Yorkshire parishes there were 3,900 signatures and as this is an issue that our member councils have we hope that your Council (and individual councillors) will be able to contribute.

The deadline for signatures is 19 April, 2016 and the petition can be accessed at:

Yours sincerely

Sheena Spence

Yorkshire Local Councils Associations, York House, Outgang Lane, Osbaldwick, YORK, YO19 5UP. Tel: 01904 436622. Email: Website:

Leeds Civic Trust places pressure on LCC Forward Planning

During November 2015 I was asked to present to Leeds Civic Trust (LCT) on the Site Allocations Proposals and the consultation that closed on Monday 16th. November 2015. While giving and overall picture I closed in on the severe plight of Horsforth and Rawdon, should the existing site allocations go ahead.

I urged LCT to challenge the overall target for dwelling numbers for Leeds and to link that to the arguments to reduce the use of green belt land. I am pleased to see this report from their Planning Committee in the recent LCT newsletter.

“At our next meeting we discussed the Core Strategy Site
Allocations Plan, which sets out appropriate sites for new
housing and other land uses around the city. The Trust
feels that there is a need for a fundamental review of
housing numbers proposed as the Council has shown far
more capacity than appears to be justified by current
building rates, population projections and likely demand.
Too many Green Belt or greenfield sites are proposed and
we are concerned that house-builders will choose these
‘easy to develop’ more profitable locations before using
the many vacant brownfield sites which can be found
within the existing urban areas. Due to this and other
issues regarding railway infrastructure and consultation
methodology, we feel the Plan is unsound and not legally
compliant – it is inconsistent with national policies,
insufficiently justified and not positively or properly

Martin Hughes
Extracted fom the Leeds Civic Trust December Newsletter

The Economics of the UK Housing Market – House of Lords consultation

CoVoP draft Submission to House of Lords Inquiry Dec 2015

Well done to CoVoP on this draft submission and I must say I am delighted with this document and find it supporting the views and written output of WARD over the last 5 years, especially in respect of 5 year land supply being used not to stimulate building but to impede it and generate softer planning on more desirable sites.

Having read it through I do feel that some wider issues may be being missed but I’ll concede that they may not be at the core of arguments about the economics of the UK housing market.

There is an issue over supply of raw materials, especially bricks. I believe that brick output is also mainly in the control of the big 6 builders because: –

  • they own the brick manufacturing companies (or are shareholders)
  • they have pre-ordered substantial brick quantities that are successfully cutting out the SME builder
  • the result of this is a shortage that is pushing up prices significantly to those wanting to buy smaller quantities e.g. SME builders.

My view on this is that government should be encouraging the development of more “ready built” housing that can be mainly constructed off site and quickly erected on site. These use less of these brick resources by enabling the use of alternative materials. There is also much more likelihood of these types of construction generating lower cost housing because building costs are lower. There is also considerable advantage in productivity as housing building goes on in whatever weather.

Finally, as a solution to all this I am strongly of the view that governments are there to fix “broken markets” and I’d say the housing one is seriously broken (it’s not delivering built houses!). I go further and state that I believe the developers are revelling in it being broken, benefitting from that, and do not want it to be repaired.

The government stepped in and poured billions into a broken banking system. They need to step in and get these brownfield sites built through financial incentive, and this should be a reward for actual housing delivery and nothing else – payment on result and driven through the corporation tax system. We have seen that the big six developers cry foul on any development not generating 20% profit. I am in favour of government financial support through the company taxation system to support brownfield development margins – but I’d like to see that offered not to the big six (who have taken advantage of the situation and have not built) but to local SME building companies, who will also be employing local people.

Martin Hughes

Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy

Some good and some bad.

The brownfield ideas (even on greenbelt) seem reasonable, as does the focus on affordable and starter homes, but oh dear! – Housing Delivery (27 onwards).

What I read is the rod being flexed to continue to beat Local Authorities about the head for non-delivery, while it’s the developers who should be taking the beating IMHO. After all, who is building the houses! Not Local Authorities.

In this respect I cannot but feel that these changes leave the NPPF as an ongoing developer’s charter, but with lip service paid to buzz-word topics like affordable and start-up housing.

Again while Neighbourhood Plans might be able to allocate specific sites to start up and affordable housing numbers, will the developers comply and build them? or will the levels be negotiated away to obtain fatter S106 funding? (Just look at what has happened at Woodside Quarry, West Park, Leeds,  where affordables have been negotiated down to 5% (from 35%!)).

There is no right of community appeal offered in these revisions and that I feel leaves the whole thing as a tool continuing to favour the developer and resulting in planning continuing to be “done” to our communities.

Martin Hughes