Planning Inspector bids Leeds residents to say “Bye Bye the Green Green Grass of Home”

After attending a meeting this week on ‘The future of Housing in Leeds’ hosted by Leeds Civic Society one prominent member of the Civic Society movement made the following comments:

Leeds Core Strategy housing number confirmed by inspector

Subtitled:  Bye, bye the green, green grass of home.

“After all that consultation the Bristol Inspector has agreed the 70,000 housing figure proposed by Leeds for its Core Planning Strategy. But the sting in the tale is what the Inspector has said as to how those dwellings are to be delivered.

Leeds had proposed a starting point of 3,660 per year advancing to 4,700 per year later. All this, from a most recent base of less than 2,000, which might just crawl to 2,500 during 2014. It was a tall order then, but even worse now.

The Inspector prefers that the target of 70,000 dwellings is met in a linear way – that is 4,600 dwellings per year, as if Leeds can magically conjure builders to start building tomorrow!

“If anyone in this room can tell me how Leeds can move its house building level from where it is now to 4,600 per year now, please see me afterwards” bleated Phil Crabtree, Leeds’ Director of Planning, seeking the sympathy of an audience at the Leeds Civic Trust housing conference held at Doubletree Hilton, Leeds last night (10th February).

He gets no sympathy from me – he was instrumental in creating the problem we all now have.

A high total housing requirement number is directly reflected in the need for a high 5 year land supply. The Government requires that Local Planning Authorities should ensure that there is a regular supply of land that is suitable, available and deliverable for housing development. The amount of land available should be sufficient to fulfil the housing requirement for the next five years. Local Authorities who fail the targets are pressured by the addition of a further 20% added to the land supply target. “Deliverable” is defined as dwellings occupied by people paying or exempt from Council Tax.

Leeds is failing that target and I predict a planning rout, as developers get the green light to start to pick off Leeds’ green sites all around the city, and especially in those areas of greatest desirability, like where I live, Horsforth. This is the result of flawed planning policy, at the heart of which is the National Planning Policy Framework.

How does this process leave such a threat to our green-field land?

I think that developers will apply for planning applications, which if rejected by Planning Panels will lead quickly to planning appeals. There might even be some thought running through Planning Panel’s minds to accept the applications, because they know of the consequences of losing any appeal – £’00,000 in costs claimed by the developer for all those sharp suited QCs lined up to attack the original decision. They’ll also be mindful of the need to try and push up their house dwelling build numbers.

Just about all the planning appeals I have studied over the last few years have seen the developer’s lawyers cite the failure of Leeds to meet the 5 year land supply target. Expect more of this, and expect to say bye, bye to a lot of the green, green grass of Leeds.”

Martin Hughes, Chairman, Horsforth Civic Society

Hear, hear Martin – well said!  We heartily endorse your comments.