Two of Leeds MPs who have consistently supported Wharfedale & Airedale Review Development in our efforts to defend Green Belt from predatory housebuilders and, also, in our campaign for planning reform have once again demonstrated their willingness to work with this organisation. Stuart Andrew MP for Pudsey, at our request, has managed to secure us a face-to-face meeting with four of Leeds CC’s chief decision-makers; on the 23rd May we will be meeting with Leeds CEO Tom Riordan, Council Leader Judith Blake, Chief Planning Officer Tim Hill and the councillor i/c Housing Richard Lewis. This meeting, which will be at the Civic Hall, will give us the opportunity of posing some hard questions about housing targets, the SAP & Green Belt loss, transport & infrastructure. Rest assured we will not be ‘pulling any punches’ and we will be fighting strongly on behalf of all who wish to preserve our precious open spaces, improve our environmental infrastructure and retain quality of life for future generations.

In the course of a major debate at Westminster on the 9th February this year, the member for Leeds North West, Greg Mulholland MP, referred once again to the important work being done by this organisation and, having done this, has ensured that Wharfedale & Airedale Review Development has now received three mentions in Hansard – the official record of the UK parliament. This clearly demonstrates we are getting something right and, again, that we are the only community networking organisation to have had regular contact with several of our local MPs since our formation some 5 & 1/2 years ago. See Greg’s letter and the Hansard reference below:

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Transcript of Greg Mulholland’s debate input from Hansard.

Greg Mulholland: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I welcome the intervention from the hon. Lady, and indeed anything that will get Leeds City Council building more and using its powers. We need to learn from best practice everywhere and from councils of any colour.

My final point is that the planning system is not set up to deliver the solution to the housing crisis. Deregulating and making it easier for developers to build on green belt and greenfield sites will not help.

I share the criticism of the housing targets and the fact that Leeds City Council will not revise its target.

I have campaigned with my neighbouring MPs and with Wharfedale and Airedale Review Development, which highlighted the flaws in the council’s case. At the same time, WARD is very clear that there need to be changes in the planning system. It feels that, because of the planning system and the way that developers are able to exploit it, Leeds City Council will not stand in the way of developers.

I again ask the Minister to look at my National Planning Policy Framework (Community Involvement) Bill, which came up with a number of solutions last year on how we can give more specific powers to communities and councils; look at housing targets not on a council but on a regional level; allow co-operation; and do more to put into practice the words from the Minister about ensuring that we incentivise development on brownfield sites.

The balance is not right on either the planning system or housing. Until the Government accept that and stop hiding behind the dangerous gimmick of the right to buy, it will leave many sections of our society with no way out of this housing crisis.

Obviously to facilitate and maintain our work WARD needs to retain and increase the support it already receives from individual community groups across the region.

Accordingly, I invite any individual or group wishing to join us, or to comment on any of the above, to do so through this website. All are welcome! We really need to work together and stand united in our campaign for planning reform if we are to succeed in saving our environment.

The old adage is true: UNITED WE STAND; DIVIDED WE FALL!

Dr David Ingham