The Scandal of Land Banking – by Tom Scargill

Derelict land abandoned in North Leeds by property developers has been labeled a “total scandal” by the chairman of a local action group.

A report commissioned by the Wharfedale and Airedale Review Development Group (WARD) claims that developers have permission to build up to 2,000 homes in North Leeds – but so far not one brick has been laid on the sites. 

Speaking at a protest  over further developments earmarked for Menston, WARD chairman Dr David Ingham accused developers of land banking, where land is purchased but not built on until it becomes more profitable.

He said: “The developers are only interested in profit, they don’t care what impact a development will have on a local environment. They just up sticks and move on to the next one.

“They’re land banking until the economic climate gets better. It is a total scandal that this state of affairs is allowed to carry on.”

Fellow WARD member Graham Booth said: “Every house built in Menston will put eight vehicle journeys a day down the A65.

“The green belt land in our own back yards is going and we’re concerned that the little towns around here will lose their identities. Life will change rapidly in the semi-urban areas of Leeds like Horsforth and Adel, which will be turned into inner-city areas.”

WARD member Alan Elsegood argued: “When they’ve developed all the green land out here they’ll have destroyed us. At the end of the day, is everybody going to live in an urban community? Will there be no escape to a rural community?”

Redrow Group, who have permission to build nearly 100 homes in Guiseley, said in a statement: “Land is our most important raw material and we need to hold enough land to sustain the business. It takes time – often many years – to acquire land, take it through the planning process to the point of obtaining detailed planning permission and to subsequently build and sell all the homes on a site.

“A UK-wide study by the Office of Fair Trading in 2008 concluded that house builders were not hoarding large amounts of land with implementable planning permission on which they have not started construction.

“Although some house builders’ land banks may appear to have increased recently, this is largely because annual production has been cut in response to economic and market conditions.”

Tom Scargill is a trainee journalists at North Leeds News, studying at Leeds Trinity University College.