Wetherby councillor challenges Leeds planning policy

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.
Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

A Wetherby Coun is challenging planning policy at Leeds City Council (LCC) after raising objections to the way the application for housing at Spofforth Hill was handled.

Coun John Procter, who is also deputy leader of the Conservative group, told the Wetherby News last week that he had not been told of recent amendments to the proposal for up to 325 houses at Spofforth Hill, including the decision to take £8.5million away from the town and put it into other sites nearer to Leeds.

Now, Coun Procter said he is concerned that the way LCC develops proposals for future housing is flawed.

“The big question for everyone concerned about future housing numbers is why the ruling administration is so determined to deliver 70,000 new homes over the plan period when population projections point to a more appropriate number being in the region of 50,000,” he said.

“I also have to ask why volume housing developers are allowed to be so involved in deciding which land is suitable for housing in Leeds.

“They should be consulted but they do not need to be at the table every step of the way. Many would argue they already have too much influence and in my view this now needs to be curbed in Leeds.”

According to Coun Procter, LCC is planning to build more houses than necessary. The core strategy uses an old population projection which says they number of people in Leeds will grow by 144,500 by 2028, however more recent figures show the growth is more likely to be 81,800.

LCC executive member for neighbourhoods, planning, and personnel Coun Peter Gruen responded to the concerns and said: “We have always said that the target of 70,000 homes is ambitious, however government inspectors have rejected all plans where council have artificially lowered their housing figures.

“We have said we commit to building in an early review to take account of any new information, such as changes in population and household forecasts, the latter of which are not yet available.

“We will continue to listen to everyone in taking our policies forward.”

Coun Procter said: “It is also a concern that a series of highly unpopular protected area of search (PAS) sites, such as the Spofforth Hill development in my ward, are still included in LCC’s housing numbers when in fact we have demonstrated that we already have sufficient housing land for the next five years.

“It is leading to developments in the wrong areas and it is clear that the interim PAS policy needs to be revoked with immediate effect.”