“Vibrant New Rawdon Action joins force with WARD campaign for Planning Reform”.

As Chairman of WARD, I have great pleasure in introducing one of the newly formed, highly committed and efficient action groups who are dedicated to saving the last vestiges of our precious green landscape from development by unscrupulous volume builders. WARD is pleased to have RGAG on board and in support of our campaign for planning reform to the NPPF. Without further ado I will let Briony say a few words outlining RGAG’s aims & objectives.

David Ingham

Rawdon Greenbelt Action Group

Rawdon Greenbelt Action Group’s aim is to retain the unique and special landscape character of Rawdon and Aireborough. To label us or others who campaign to save their greenbelt as ‘Nimbys’ (not in our back yard) is to do so without knowing the FACTS and the Law.

We are committed to this aim because we know that planning Law is being manipulated for ulterior motives to the detriment of Aireborough. Our campaign is rooted in the knowledge that the Council’s plan is unsound because they have not done a genuine comprehensive greenbelt review. But it is about so much more.

It’s about raising awareness amongst the community and beyond about what is being planned for them in a clear and evidenced manner.

It’s about questioning how the Council allowed the ‘big five’ housing developers to cherry pick the most profitable sites years ago and met frequently with them. It’s about questioning the absence of true democracy, of LCC not engaging regularly with its communities to help shape where they live. The citizens of Leeds have had just 8 weeks in the last TWO years to have their say in the city’s plan. Just 64 days! Oh, and 28 days in 2013 at an initial consultation when a tiny fraction of the Leeds population had the vaguest idea of the fact that the Council even had a plan.

When the government decided to respond with such vigour to the undoubted need for countrywide new homes, why wasn’t a Minister appointed to ensure that aesthetic control and long-term vision for the Country’s urban design and town planning challenges that would inevitably ensue? At such a pivotal moment in England’s rapid physical expansion – the biggest since post WWII – why? The design of the legacy this would inevitably leave behind was not a top priority. Why did aspirational and ambitious LCC not engage with its creative community – the architects and designers – to seize the singular golden opportunity to draw up a truly innovative, visionary and aesthetics-led plan for the urban growth of the city beyond the inner ring road?

Our campaign is about raising awareness of the fact that there are DEFINITELY 90+ brownfield sites previously allocated for housing being sieved out of the plan because they weren’t going to make developers More than ENOUGH profits.

It’s about raising awareness about the Public Consultation so that the public actually KNOW it’s happening. If we had a £1 for every person that has told us they’d no idea there was a public consultation, nor how drastic the Council’s plans were for Rawdon, Aireborough and Horsforth’s greenbelt we’d have a very healthy bank account. Yet the Council frequently reach every home in the city to provide well written reminders about which day their bins are going to be emptied.

It’s about challenging the flawed system which allows developers to hold Council’s to ransom, paying for roads and desperately needed improvements, as long as they can get the option to build houses on the land that’s freed up around the roads, causing MORE congestion – not less (the supposéd ‘Airport Link Road’ being a prime example).

It’s about challenging LCC’s aspirational a housing target which is way in excess of the far bigger conurbations of Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool. This target has been the root cause of the problems the plan has thrown up, flawed from day one when old ONS stats were used to reach a target of 70,000 dwellings for what can only be ulterior motives. The Law is clear about one thing – Council’s must use the most up-to-date figures when calculating housing targets. 70,000 homes will generate a great deal of Council Tax.

It’s about a plan which exclude the interests of its communities – a ‘plan’ that has NOT been planned.

If there remain any doubters, those who will smile smugly and throw the label of ‘Nimby’ at anyone daring to challenge this plan, I’d be curious to hear what you have to say. The FACTS are the FACTS and the Law is the Law (albeit one that is open to interpretation).

It’s not so wrong to expect the right sort of houses for people’s real needs, in the right places, at a fair price, in fair volume… is it?

Briony Sloan
Rawdon Greenbelt Action Group