Major plans for new Thorp Arch village now submitted

Illustrated plans for Rudgate Village
Illustrated plans for Rudgate Village

Major plans have now been submitted to build a new village in Thorp Arch, with over 800 houses, a care home and a primary school.

The application to Leeds City Council has been brought forward by St Congar Land on behalf of Rockspring Hanover Property Unit Trust (RHPUT) to build 874 houses on the Thorp Arch Trading Estate.

The plans, which include a 66 bed care home, a school, doctors surgery and a parade of shops are a scaled-down version of the previous application by RHPUT to build more than double the amount of houses on the estate.

But the proposals, dubbed by developers as ‘Rudgate Village’, have been met by strong opposition from existing Thorp Arch residents who argue the plans are unsustainable.

Peter Locke, Chairman of Thorp Arch Trading Estate Action Group, said: “It’s still more houses than there are this side of the A1 and the River Wharfe altogether. We’re cut off by the Wharfe, the A1 and the trading estate in Thorp Arch, which is about 350 houses, we have Walton with 80 or 90 houses and a few other places dotted around which in total is considerably fewer than the 874 they want to plonk on this site.

“Here a vast percentage of the traffic are drivers who work on the trading estate so we get very peaky traffic especially with the times people go to and leave work. We get big peaks of congestion on that Walton to Wetherby road and at the Thorp Arch bridge.”

The history of the land, which comprises the site of a former Second World War Royal Ordnance factory, has also been cause for concern.

Mr Locke said that several reports by organisations such as Royal Ordnance and the environment agency highlighted the contamination issues with the area. He said: “All of these reports say the danger of these sites is that in war time conditions they were called upon to do all kinds of tests and do whatever they were required to do like create a new type of bomb.”

To address this, Rockspring would have to complete a ‘confidence scrape’ on the land to make the area safe for housing.

But Mr Locke says there are issues with this too.

He said: “A confidence scrape should take place over any part of the residential site that is accessible to the public, which essentially is the whole area.

“This site is ecologically very sensitive and low and behold if they do the confidence scrape it destroys all of the ecology and they turn it into a desert.”

The action group has also raised issue with the shops and premises for a doctors surgery, slamming these scaled-down plans for being too small to justify them.

Mr Locke said: “When they were trying to push through the previous applications they went to all the local practices trying to get support and no-one was prepared to say they would open a facility, even a part time facility and this application is less than half as big as the last so unless they can get any evidence that it will be used then it is just more of their smoke and mirrors.”

A spokesperson for St Congar said: “Having carefully listened to feedback on the previous application and feedback from the most recent public exhibition - where we provided information on the emerging plans and an opportunity for local residents to give their views - we have worked closely with Leeds City Council officers to deliver plans for a highly sustainable village community.

“As we have now submitted those revised plans, which will be considered fully by the council, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage.