Government inspectors support council plans for green belt housing protection in Leeds
Green belt areas of Leeds earmarked for possible future housing development are set to be fully protected following an initial view given by government planning inspectors.
The Site Allocations Plan for Leeds which identifies locations for new housing to meet the future needs of the city was considered in a public examination held earlier this summer.
As part of the plan, Leeds City Council proposed protection from development for 33 sites in the green belt which had previously been identified as being the possible locations for 6,450 future homes. This proposal had been put forward reflecting the council’s desire to protect the green belt as much as possible, as part of its commitment to reducing the overall housing targets for the city based on the latest local evidence.
The two independent government-appointed inspectors, Claire Sherratt DIP URP MRTPI and Louise Gibbons BA Hons MRTPI, have today issued their interim views on the plan which support the council’s approach regarding green belt protection.
The Site Allocations Plan sets out locations for up to 66,000 new homes in Leeds by 2028, as set down by the Core Strategy implemented in 2014. The council’s proposal to be considered by the inspectors was for 33 of the green belt sites identified for possible housing to remain in the green belt as Broad Locations.
The inspectors’ initial view is that this designation is not required as they suggest the sites remain protected as green belt and will not now be considered for future development, with the council not needing to fully meet the housing targets set down by the Core Strategy.
Instead the inspectors have suggested that the council only needs to provide for housing needs up to 2023.
The inspectors’ interim view focuses on housing. Their views on all other areas of the plan, which also identifies areas of employment land, green space, shopping centres and for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople, will be provided later in the year.
They have indicated modifications are needed before the plan can be recommended for adoption. Leeds City Council is now reviewing these comments and will address the issues raised, with further consideration and consultation to be carried out on possible changes.
The examination of the plan was held over 16 days at the Civic Hall in July and August, with the views of more than 470 participants including local residents, interest groups and housebuilders heard by the inspectors, who have also considered more than 50,000 written comments.
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“We are grateful to the inspectors for their hard work on the Site Allocations Plan examination and we are delighted they have indicated support for the council’s approach to green belt protection.
“We know that we still need to build more homes throughout Leeds to meet the needs of the city as it continues to grow, and we are committed to as many of these as possible being affordable housing on brownfield sites. The Site Allocations Plan aims to clarify which sites can come forward for housing in a sustainable way, and would put an end to speculative development in Leeds which is in nobody’s interest.”
Leeds City Council chair of the development plan panel Councillor Peter Gruen said:
“The inspectors have had a considerable challenge in considering the comments and views of thousands of people throughout this process, and the public hearings gave everyone the chance to tell the inspectors what they think and they have listened.
“We are now a significant step closer to adopting the plan and have clarity from the inspectors which is very important.”
Notes to editors:
A fully approved and adopted Site Allocations Plan is critical to ensure that the council has control over its five-year housing land supply and can avoid speculative development. The current Site Allocations Plan sets out a requirement for 66,000 new homes in Leeds from 2012-2028, as agreed in the Core Strategy adopted in 2014. The inspectors have suggested that the council only needs to provide for housing needs up to 2023. This will require the council to review the Site Allocations Plan by no later than 2023 to address housing needs after this date, but this will now be done after the Core Strategy Selective Review is adopted.
In parallel to the preparation of the Site Allocations Plan, the council is also undertaking a Core Strategy Selective Review, as a basis to review the overall housing requirement based on new evidence. The recommendation as part of this process is for a revised and lower future housing figure of 51,952 new homes between 2017 and 2033.
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