Rigorous statistical analysis of Leeds City Council’s proposed Housing Site Allocations Plan has been undertaken by Professor David Cove of Leeds University, and makes alarming reading.
The Leeds Council data breaks down site allocations into green, yellow and red categories, the green category being the sites proposed for earliest development and the red category for the site not current considered suitable or practicable for the construction of housing. The analogy with traffic lights – go now, proceed with caution and stop/wait – is inescapable. Thus, both the green and yellow categories are imminently at risk of development.
Leaving aside for the moment that Leeds City Council is proposing the construction of a far higher proportion of housing than other cities with comparable population growth, and ignoring the fact that the Council has already approved planning consents for 22,500 properties, with another 15,000 unoccupied and out-of-use, their plans for development on brownfield sites are minute – only 8% of housing is proposed for previously-used or derelict sites. What they are planning is for 90% of future housing sites to be on greenfield or Green Belt land.
As the diagram below shows:
- Outer areas of Leeds are proposed to suffer significantly more housing development than inner areas;
- Of the housing planned for the earliest construction (green category), 57% of the land (“site area”) is indicated to be wholly or partly in Green Belt;
- Taking both the green category and the next earliest development (in the yellow category), up to 71% of housing is planned to consume Green Belt;
- Of the total number of housing units (dwellings proposed), only 12% will be built on brownfield (previously used) land overall, and this reduces to 6% in the outer areas of the city;
- When all the identified construction sites are considered (green, yellow and red categories), 92% of the housing units are intended to be constructed in the outer areas of the city, on Green belt land and current green spaces (see the highlighted area).
Paragraphs 79, 80 and 81 of the National Planning Policy Framework (the NPPF, which came into force in April 2013) are about protecting Green Belt land and state clearly that the Green Belt serves five purposes, namely:
- to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
- to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
- to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
- to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
- to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
These plans from Leeds City Council clearly run contrary to Government policy as outlined in the NPPF. What’s more, they do nothing “to assist in urban regeneration” as the vast acreage of brownfield sites in Leeds City Centre has been studiously ignored by the SHLAA Group. Why is this? This is an important question which the WARD group will put to the planning inspector next month when the ‘public hearing sessions’ begin.