Wetherby planning protesters assured their letters of objection will be read

wet  Pictured at Spofforth Hill are protesters Simon Parrish, Beverley Parrish, Alex Parrish, Peter Tweddle, Freda Barker, Jim Walton, David Walton, and Tony Evans.  (130906M2)
wet Pictured at Spofforth Hill are protesters Simon Parrish, Beverley Parrish, Alex Parrish, Peter Tweddle, Freda Barker, Jim Walton, David Walton, and Tony Evans. (130906M2)

Residents protesting against planning applications across Wetherby are being assured that their letters of objection will all be taken into account.

This assurance follows fears that, due to a heavy workload, planning officers would not be able to read the several hundred letters of objection submitted in response to the Spofforth Hill development.

Leeds City Council (LCC) has received a huge number of objections from residents raising concerns about the application for 325 homes on the 36-acre site, submitted to the authority in July 2013.

Resident and objector Jim Walton said: “Council officers are dealing with a very heavy workload. We sincerely accept that they are doing their very best and working many hours of unpaid overtime.

“We have to remind the council that the objection letters are at the core of our limited legal rights in the planning process.

“The vast majority of the objections include points which are consistent with the requirements of the national policy, not all of which, at this time, appear to be being addressed.

“We believe that failure to read all of the objection letters and present an accurate and fair summary to council members could be an infringement of both our statutory and human rights.”

Concerns raised about Spofforth Hill include the proposed development’s impact on traffic and the environment, and its sustainability.

Wetherby Coun John Procter (Con) has attended several meetings regarding the development, answering residents’ questions about the planning process.

He said: “It is not the process that people get a response to their letters and planning officers can’t put every letter in the planning report, but they do raise the key points in summary from the number of letters submitted.

“The senior planning officer has informed me that every letter of objection will be read as they always are.”

An LCC spokeswoman said: “We will read all correspondence received about this and all issues raised will be taken into account when considering the application and highlighted in a future plans panel report. Members of the public will also have the opportunity to speak at the relevant plans panel.”

Other applications for Wetherby, including the proposal for around 2,000 houses in Thorp Arch, have also received hundreds of objections and residents opposing development at this site are concerned about planning at LCC.

Lead campaigner and resident Peter Locke said: “I think the whole planning system at Leeds is currently, it seems, a complete mess. We clearly have a very overloaded planning department.

“Certainly in the case of Thorp Arch the process does not seem to be followed properly, and some serious questions need to be asked about the way planning is handled.

“We believe we have made an incredibly full case that the application doesn’t meet either local or national planning guidelines. Despite that, the chief planning officer seems determined to ignore all the facts and push it through.

“Where is the democracy? The whole thing has gone completely wrong.”