4,943 new houses for Wetherby and surrounding area by 2028

Housing location proposals announced for outer north east region of Leeds.  (121122M4b)
Housing location proposals announced for outer north east region of Leeds. (121122M4b)
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Wetherby and the surrounding area is likely to take 4,943 new houses by 2028, according to Leeds City Council’s official vision for the region.

For the first time the council (LCC) has set out a detailed plan to expand the city, increasing the overall number of houses by 66,000, it was revealed this week.

This figure is less than the 70,000 previously predicted by the city council in the core strategy adopted in November 2014.

Nevertheless, all areas will still be targeted, with the outer north-east area, where Wetherby, Harewood, Boston Spa, and Collingham are found, taking seven per cent of the overall development.

Wetherby Coun John Procter (Con), has been fighting on behalf of campaigning residents protesting the number of developments in the pipeline.

He told the Wetherby News he is satisfied with the housing allocation for the area, pointing to the proposed use of Headley Fields, near Bramham, for up to 3,000 houses – a large portion of development in the outer north east of the city.

“In terms of allocations I am pleased the officers have agreed with what I have been saying for some time and that is that we have a strategic location for housing in our area and that is going to be Headley,” he said.

“That relieves the pressure from us and that is all to the good. From that point of view I am content with what has been proposed for our area.

“That is not to say I am content with the proposals as a whole, because across Leeds there are other areas that don’t have a big strategic opportunity like we do.

“There are some good elements about this and some regrettable elements. That is how this process works.”

Though much of what is proposed is earmarked for brownfield sites (six in every 10 new houses), the city council has received criticism for its use of greenfield sites.

Scholes campaigner George Hall said that, of the 4,943 dwellings projected in the area, 16 per cent are on greenfield, 65 per cent on gree nbelt, and more PAS on top of this.

He added: “I hope their aspirations are achievable.”

This mixed reaction was also expressed by Wetherby Coun Alan Lamb (Con), who said: “The number the Labour council has set for the city as a whole is far too high - it is not realistic, and when we have an excess, developers are going to pick the most profitable sites.

“For them, that is areas such as ours, and not the places that desperately need regeneration in the inner city.

“We will continue to argue that that should be reviewed and set lower, because it isn’t in anybody’s interest except for the developer.”

Coun Lamb added, however, that the Headley Fields site was the best way, ‘given the circumstances’, of ‘making sure none of our villages are going to be swamped’.

“Having the Headley site is crucial because it means there is going to be no large development in our villages and towns.

“The problem with having lots of small developments means they don’t deliver the infrastructure they need but all the pressure is there.

“But if you have it in one place, like Headley, it means developers can build in shops and roads and everything that is needed.”

The majority of the total new-builds, 34 per cent, will be in inner city areas and the city centre, while the area taken the smallest percentage of development, at three per cent, is the outer north west.

Including Otley and Pool-in-Wharefedale, it is proposed that this area takes 1,800 new houses.

At this stage the figures are only proposals. However, once the development plan panel has met on Tuesday, these prospective allocations will be passed to the executive board in February 2015.

There will then be a six-week period of public consultation in summer or autumn 2015 before any formal plan is drawn up.

Next week’s meeting follows a similar site allocations process for land for employment, green space, and retail that took place on January 6.

Explaining the process, development plan panel chair Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab) said that ensuring the correct infrastructure was in place to support potential development was a key concern for the authority.

He said: “Around all of the areas of possible development the council has been working with infrastructure and service providers such as schools, health services, and transport planners to ensure growth would be manageable and sustainable as that is essential in successfully introducing and accommodating any new housing.”

Leeds Conservative group councillors have warned of genuine threat to green belt land posed by the site allocations proposals.

Group leader Coun Andrew Carter said these will see 23 per cent of new housing delivered on protected green belt areas and a further 20 per cent on greenfield sites.

He added that almost all wards will see the amount of green belt land reduced through the Core Strategy in addition to widespread development on greenfield sites. “The truth is that communities all over Leeds will see the amount of green belt in their wards significantly reduced as part of these plans by the Labour administration to build 70,000 new houses,” he said.“As we have repeatedly said, these numbers are unsustainable and unrealistic. Let’s not forget that green belt offers valuable protection from urban sprawl and gives many of our towns and villages their unique identities, as well as providing much needed ‘green lungs’ for our city.

“Building in the green belt should only be considered at all after brownfield sites have been used, but the core of the problem is the Labour administration’s insistence on an unrealistic number of 70,000 houses.

“We will join local residents groups in fighting these proposals, and continue to campaign for a review of the housing numbers.”

POTENTIAL SITES FOR HOUSING NEAR YOU

The sites allocations process incorporates the number of houses set out as required in the Core Strategy - 4,943 for the outer north east.

As the total development growth is dated from 2012 to 2028, some sites have already been allocated, and in some cases, like Church Fields in Boston Spa, houses have been built.

Below is a list of some of the sites in our area described by LCC as having the ‘greatest potential to be allocated for housing’. The number stated is the site’s capacity:

325 at Spofforth Hill

67 at the Mercure Hotel site on Wetherby Road

65 at the site of the former forensic science lab on Sandbeck Lane

16 at Deighton Road

15 at Nidd Vale Motors

15 at land to the east of Belle Vue Avenue in Scholes

10 at Keswick Lane near Bardsey

Seven at the Piccolino’s site in Collingham

There are also sites which ‘have potential but there may be issues which need to be resolved’.

Many of these sites (excluding Headley) are, however, either deemed unsuitable for development or not required to meet housing numbers due to local preference for an alternative, and could therefore be retained as they are.

They include:

3,000 at Headley Hall in Bramham

1,047 at land at York Road-Sandbeck Lane

850 east of Scholes

183 at Lilac Farm in Collingham

141 at Sandbeck Wood

141 at Aberford Road in Barwick

110 at West Park in Boston Spa

103 at Grove Road in Boston Spa

103 at land at Harewood Road in Collingham

65 at Moor End in Boston Spa

60 at land off Wood Lane in Scholes

59 at Carr Lane

59 at land west of Deepdale Lane in Boston Spa

38 at Barwick Grove in Garforth

31 at Roundhay Park Lane

23 at the site of the prison social club on Walton Road

19 at land to the east of Church Street in Boston Spa

17 at Church Street in Boston Spa

16 at Thorp Arch Grange

This is not an exhaustive list of proposed sites, as many were added after locations were given a rating.

MP for Elmet and Rothwell Alec Shelbrooke said of the proposals: “It remains the case that the housing target set by Labour in Leeds requires the premature release of greenfields despite there being brownfield sites in the city crying out for redevelopment.

“Nevertheless, dealing with the hand we were dealt by Leeds, it is testament to the work of local community groups and elected members that, broadly, we have successfully saved dozens of green sites in our villages from over development by lobbying Leeds to allocate single self-contained sites to accommodate Labour’s housing target.

“The future risk to Wetherby and surrounding villages now lies with Ed Miliband’s election pledge to build 200,000 new homes a year - house building on a scale that would practically double the size of Wetherby.”

LCC executive member for planning Coun Peter Gruen (Lab) explained the site allocation proposals.

He said: “It is vital we get it right for the future of the city, its residents, and the economy of Leeds.

“Providing 66,000 new homes is a challenging ambition but one in line with the city’s aim to be the best in the UK.

‘People will be interested to see how much is being proposed in their area, but I would say we have tried to be fair across the city, with a clear policy on brownfield sites being used first and bringing back into use existing empty buildings in order to help protect the green belt.

“People should also look at what we are protecting and excluding from development.”