Leeds planning – everyone else is to blame, not us!

Leeds City Council yesterday considered a white paper motion  (see previous blogs) on reviewing the overly-ambitious Leeds housing target. Cllr Carter (Con) introduced the motion indicating that he would accept the reasonable amendments put down by Cllr Campbell (Lib Dem), and Cllr Anderson (Con). Two other amendments from Cllr Leathley (Morley Ind) and Cllr Lewis (Lab), he rejected.

There was a passionate debate with finger pointing and shouting and essentially Labour councillors blaming everyone but themselves. I felt it was another case of the Leeds administration just not listening.

No one appears to have understood that without a 5 -year land supply the Leeds Core Strategy is now out of date. Cllr Lewis (shouting) told Council that work on reviewing the housing target was already underway! News to us that follow this closely.

Votes were taken separately for each amendment: –
Cllr. Leathley’s amendment was rejected 34 for / 60 against
Cllr. Campbell’s by the same
Cllr. Anderson’s by the same.

The result of this is that the Labour amendment as reproduced below became “the substantive motion” and was voted on: result 60 for and 29 against with 4 abstentions.

The motion below was therefore passed.

It was shocking to see Labour unprepared to accept that they were wrong. I suppose we should be relieved that at least the housing number is under review.

This is the Labour motion (below) that was passed. It is worth reading in full and carefully e.g. “supposed lack of a 5 year housing land supply”. No. Fact: Leeds does not have a 5 year land supply at the moment, as the housing target is too high! The rest seems to be saying “not our fault”. Having been asked to put party politics aside, the opposite happened. Leeds City Council has to recognise that it was THEY that adopted a Core Strategy containing an overly-ambitious housing target – and no one else! I agree heartily that the NPPF has not helped the mistake that was made with the housing target.

Martin Hughes, Chairman, Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance


“This Council notes that the Secretary of State, a Conservative MP, has overturned local decisions on planning applications in Leeds based on a supposed lack of a 5 year housing land supply. Council believes that decisions like this primarily benefit developers at the cost of local communities.

Council further notes that the Labour administration has a longstanding commitment to selectively review the Core Strategy, including the housing target. Council welcomes the work that is underway to review the government inspector approved target of 70,000 homes in the light of recent evidence and wishes to see this concluded swiftly, whilst continuing to move ahead with the Site Allocations Plan. The results of this review should be reported to Executive Board at the earliest opportunity.

Council notes the Planning Green Paper published in 2010 states that “these radical reforms aim to:
• Restore democratic and local control over the planning system;
• Rebalance the system in favour of sustainable development;
• Produce a simpler, quicker, cheaper and less bureaucratic planning system.

Council laments that in 6 years of Conservative government that this has clearly not been achieved.

Council believes the National Planning Policy Framework needs fundamental change to ensure communities voices can be heard clearly. In particular, Council believes that the practical operation of the 5 year housing land supply undercuts local, democratic decision making and makes a mockery of a plan-led process. In addition, Council notes that inconsistent decisions have been made on the 5 year land supply from government appointed inspectors, with Leeds communities finding themselves at the mercy of housing developers.

Council calls for an overhaul of the planning framework that puts powers truly in the hands of local authorities to reflect local needs and vision, encourages sustainable development and seeks to remove the perverse incentives of holding deliverable land and limiting development on sites in order to increase profits.

In light of the current uncertainty, Council therefore requests that group leaders collectively write to the Housing and Planning Minister to highlight these concerns and, at the very least, call for a suspension of the 5 year land supply requirement on Councils that are progressing quickly towards a Site Allocations Plan hearing. Council also calls on the government to consider introducing penalties against developers who are found to be land banking, and for a report to be brought to Executive board outlining what more can be done in Leeds to address this problem.”