16 Dec 2021
Green light for latest phase of work on development masterplan
Leeds City Council has welcomed recommendations which could take it a significant step closer to finalising a major development plan that will help deliver high-quality homes and opportunities for local people.
A planning inspector has provisionally backed the council’s proposal for 36 pieces of land to be retained within the city’s protected green belt under changes to Leeds’s Site Allocations Plan (SAP). The inspector has also provisionally backed a related proposal that would see an additional site at Barrowby Lane in Manston earmarked for employment use with the aim of further driving economic growth and job creation in east Leeds.
The SAP, a key planning policy document which allocates land for future housing, employment, office, industrial and retail use, was adopted by the council in 2019 after a rigorous process of preparation and public consultation lasting six years.
Under the original terms of the SAP, a total of 36 sites were removed from the green belt for possible housing use while a 37th – at Barrowby Lane – was removed from the green belt for a mix of potential housing and employment uses.
The council then revisited the document following a legal challenge brought by Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum, with the High Court ruling last year that all 37 sites should be temporarily removed from the SAP and returned to the green belt pending further examination by the national Planning Inspectorate. The remainder of the SAP – which covers hundreds of sites across the city – was unaffected by the court ruling.
Work conducted by the council with developers and landowners subsequently found that, due to the changing nature of local land supply, Leeds would in fact be able to more than meet its housing requirements for the period up to 2028 without the need for further green belt site releases.
Using those findings, the council drew up a series of proposed modifications to the SAP that were submitted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate in March this year.
The Planning Inspectorate has now agreed that, subject to public consultation, the council can retain the 36 housing allocation sites in the green belt and switch Barrowby Lane’s status from housing and employment to solely employment.
The council’s executive board yesterday approved a six-week public consultation on the proposed changes. Once the consultation has taken place, the Planning Inspectorate will consider any responses received and prepare a report. This in turn, it is hoped, will allow the council to confirm the modifications, giving it a fully adopted and up-to-date SAP.
Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said:
“The Site Allocations Plan has been a massive undertaking for the council and one that will play a central role in shaping the future of our city.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to deliver the kind of homes and jobs that people in Leeds need and deserve, and this document will help us achieve that through the weight it carries in the determination of planning applications.
“It’s really encouraging, therefore, to see us getting closer to a position where it can be fully adopted by the council and bring more certainty to residents and investors alike.”
The council’s original work on its SAP involved carefully assessing sites throughout the city and deciding which were the most appropriate and sustainable to allocate for development, in accordance with local and national policy. The plan was the subject of independent examination by government-appointed planning inspectors, who found it sound and legally compliant.
The council’s proposed modifications are set against a background of considerable housing delivery in Leeds on brownfield sites, with 4,200 new homes currently under construction in and around the city centre. This is the highest number of new homes under development in and around Leeds city centre since the global financial crisis of 2008.
In its legal challenge, Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum claimed the council had acted wrongly in its approach to releasing four green belt sites in Guiseley and Yeadon, and by later adopting the SAP on the basis of that specific approach. Four grounds raised in the claim were rejected or not allowed to proceed by the judge in the case. The claim was allowed on a further three grounds.
Local authorities are required by the National Planning Policy Framework to maintain a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.
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Leeds City Council Communications team