SOS (Save our Scholes Action Group) Public Meeting Questions LDF Housing Targets

Invited by SOS to address a public meeting yesterday evening 8 July in St Philip’s Church,Scholes in the Leeds Outer North East area, WARD Chairman Dr David Ingham questioned the validity of the Leeds LDF figures, revealing that Leeds with the lowest population increase of any major city planned, in the next fifteen years, to build the highest number of houses of any major city in England including some with significantly higher population increases as demonstrated by the 2011 Census.

Angry residents expressed most clearly their disquiet about the Leeds plans to dump 5,000 extra houses on their green fields.  Concerns were voiced regarding the impact of such large scale development upon the local infrastructure – particularly with reference to the increased demand for school places, doctors, dentists etc.  There were definite ideas about where most of this extra housing should be placed – preferably in inner city brownfield areas.  Other speakers, including David Cove from CPRE and George Hall, local resident and former Parish Councillor, agreed with WARD chairman, David Ingham, that this was unlikely to happen as current planning legislation is weighted against local communities and is still heavily biased in favour of developers.  The Localism Act was felt to be ineffective and a piece of political spin whilst the Growth and Infrastructure Act was labelled ‘a developer’s charter’!

The WARD chairman put out a strong call for support from the Scholes residents urging them to question the Leeds figures and join WARD’s campaign, through the site allocations process to fight the LDF proposals up to and including the public consultation which will have to be held by the Planning Inspector regarding the integrity of the Leeds LDF proposals.

The following table clearly demonstrates, using the 2011 Census details, that the Leeds LDF proposals are out of kilter with other major cities.  Why?  There’s something strange here – “There’s something rotten in the State of Denmark”!

Leeds  Core Development Framework Housing Targets & Targets in Other Cities 

It is our understanding that population growth using census data must be the most accurate guide to population growth in the future and therefore to future housebuilding needs.   You would expect Leeds 5% growth to continue and therefore the aim would be to build similar numbers of new properties to other cities with similar population growth patterns.  Unfortunately this is not the case and the implications for our communities are severe and unacceptable.

The chart below shows how Leed’s targets (and to a lesser extent Bradford’s) are much, much higher than anywhere else in England, despite the lowest population growth.

Actual Population Increase 2001 -2011 based on 2011 Census Results & Proposed New Dwellings in Core Development Frameworks                                                                               

                                          % Population Increase      Planned  New Builds to 2028     

Leeds Pop increase 5%                      35,900                                      70,000

Bradford Pop increase 11%                    51,700                                          45,000         

Sheffield  Pop increase 7.7%                 39,600                                      29,750 (2004 – 2025)

Birmingham Pop increase 9%             88,000                                        50,000 65,000

Bristol Pop increase 10%                      47,585                                           26,400

Leicester 17%                                          47,100                                            21,335              2010

NB    Plans for cities, excluding Leeds & Bradford,  have been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate, including the proposed levels of new housing.  These are substantially lower than the Leeds proposals less than half for Leicester, Bristol and Sheffield!

Why are the Leeds figures so high, despite the lowest growth in population?  The WARD organisation has consistently asked the Leeds Planners to supply the raw data on which LCC’s LDF housing targets are based.  Despite a written request from Stuart Andrew MP, this document/documents has not been forthcoming.  WARD will continue to question the validity of the Leed’s housing targets for the next fifteen years.