Local MP Stuart Andrew secures Commons Debate on Housing Targets

Stuart Andrew MP, has secured a House of Commons Debate on The Effect of Housing Targets on his Pudsey Constituency, which also includes Guiseley and Rawdon and the A65 corridor from Horsforth to Menston.  The debate will occur between 4.00 – 4.30pm in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 3 February.

WARD considers this debate to be crucial in the fight to have the Leeds Site Allocations Plan called in by the Minister and has today sent Stuart a letter containing relevant material for use in the Debate.  See as follows:

Dear Stuart

 I think the following points need emphasis:

  1. There has been no significant improvement to infrastructure (transport,schools,healthcare) since the A65 spreadsheet developments. Indeed, the A65 was described by Leeds Transport Dept as being ‘over capacity’ in its May 2005 internal report. This was backed up and found to be correct by the Met Eng Report of 2011 which was commissioned by WARD. The current situation is getting worse as there is no allowance in the current NPPF for any need to be taken of the cumulative effect of additional housing upon already extant traffic congestion on the A65, the A658 and the Leeds outer ringroad. Significant building at Apperley Bridge Plus the opening of the new rail station will exacerbate the existing congestion on the A65 and A658 – as will airport expansion.
  2. The Leeds LDF figures are based on flawed statistics, of which you are aware. Wharfedale & Airedale Review Development pointed out at the Public Hearing Sessions in Oct 2013 that adopting this high aspirational target would result in the the predation of greenbelt by developers if Leeds were to place Green Belt land in the Site Allocations Plan. This has now happened and the Leeds SAP must be resisted and objected to in the strongest possible way.

 The NPPF, in para 79, clearly outlines the 5 purposes of Green Belt and it certainly does not include releasing it, as LCC has done, in order to make housing targets and the 5 year land supply! On 3rd March 2014 The DCLG, made it absolutely clear, 

“…we would maintain key protections for the countryside and, in particular, for Green Belt. The National Planning Policy Framework met this commitment in full. The Framework makes clear that a Green Belt boundary may be altered only in exceptional circumstances and reiterates the importance and permanence of the Green Belt.” (letter from Nick Boles to Sir Michael Pitt, Chief Executive, Planning Inspectorate, Bristol – 3rd March 2014)

This letter goes on,

“The Secretary of State will consider exercising his statutory powers of intervention in Local Plans before they are adopted where a planning inspector has recommended a Green Belt review that is not supported by the local planning authority.”

This is clearly the case in Leeds.  As such, we need to consider whether or not to ask the Minister to call in this Site Allocations Plan.

  1. At the Leeds LDF Public Hearing Sessions Insp. Thickett recommended a full Green Belt Review which should include a public consultation. This has not been done despite claims by Lois Pickering to the contrary at the Plans Panel meeting on 13 January.

We must ask Leeds the following questions:

  1. a) How and when was a full Green Belt Review carried out and why was there no public consultation?
  2. b) Exactly what are the ‘exceptional circumstances’ which justify the release of so much Green Belt in the Site Allocations Plan?
  3. c) According to the DCLG releasing Green Belt to simply meet the housing target does NOT constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’. Why is Leeds in contravention of this ruling?
  4. d) How is Leeds going to comply with the Coalition’s ruling that adequate infrastructure should be in place before any further building occurs in our communities?
  5. e) Why has Leeds failed to carry out individual cumulative sustainability studies/modelling re the impact of further development on each of the 11 designated areas?

Hopefully, Stuart, you will find the above helpful in Tuesday’s debate. Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you require further information on any of the above.

Very Best Regards

David

WARD considers it absolutely vital that the above questions regarding the Leeds Site Allocation Plan be put to the Leeds Planners and the Leeds Council Executive Board as soon as possible.  The Plans Panel has already recommended the Plan for consideration by the Leeds Council Executive Board at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday 11 February.  This will enable the Plan to be written up in detail by the Dept. for Forward Development Implementation, headed by David Feeney, where planners will no doubt dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the ‘t’s’.

Importantly, Leeds is NOT planning any public consultation on the Site Allocations Plan before the end of Summer/Autumn by which time WARD considers it will too late for the public to make effective comments regarding the suitability of the Plan and the loss of Green Belt which the highly aspirational housing target of 70,000 will demand.

Anyone wishing to comment on the Plan should therefore do so NOW.   The Plan can be seen on the Leeds website at www.leeds.gov.uk/planning.  Letters/emails of protest should be addressed to the Chief Planning Officer, Forward Planning and Implementation, The Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington Street, LEEDS, LS2 8HD.

Please note that all letters of protest sent now will be discounted if not resent when the official period for public consultation opens in late Summer or early Autumn.  So please do not be caught out – keep a copy to resend when the official period opens.  This is not a waste of time – the more pressure that is exerted on Leeds City Council the more likely it is we shall succeed in saving our precious Green Belt.