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