Campaigners 'devastated' at plans for nearly 2,000 homes on historic Leeds estate under new blueprint

BACKLASH: Campaigners from the Save Parlington action group gathered at the estate's triumphal arch to oppose the plans. Picture: Tony Johnson.

BACKLASH: Campaigners from the Save Parlington action group gathered at the estate's triumphal arch to oppose the plans. Picture: Tony Johnson.

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Campaigners are fighting a homes masterplan that they say will destroy a "historic" Leeds estate.

Leeds City Council is consulting residents on the Site Allocations Plan (SAP), which will form the blueprint for development in the city for the next decade once formally adopted by the authority in winter.

The SAP has identified almost 2,000 homes to be built in a stand-alone settlement on the Parlington estate, between Aberford and Barwick-in-Elmet, in the Outer North East area of Leeds.

It comes after the homes were previously recommended to be built on a 600-acre plot of land near Headley Hall in Bramham, before those plans were abandoned, forcing changes to the SAP.

But residents, who set up the Save Parlington action group, say they are “devastated” by the proposals that they believe will destroy its heritage.

Mum-of-two Adrienne Sykes, chairwoman of the group, said: “People are absolutely devastated about the plans.

"Parlington has history and a unique heritage, it has ancient woodlands and walking groups travel to the estate.”

At least 1,850 homes are proposed in Parlington under the SAP up to 2028, but the figure could expand to 5,000 as part of the plan review.

Mrs Sykes, 42, said 261 hectares of greenbelt land has been identified under the SAP for new homes in Parlington, which the group believes does not have the infrastructure to support the influx of houses.

She added: "The changes that they have made to the plan not only make it worse, but make it more un-sound.

"The number of objections isn't just a volume, but it's people genuinely believing that the plan is not justified, it's not legal and it certainly is not sustainable."

The campaign group has been backed by Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke, and local ward councillors whose constituents may be affected.

Coun Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said the council has sought to use brownfield land where reasonable but must ensure future demand for housing is met.

More than 3,300 letters of objection were submitted against the plans during the first round of consultations.

In the latest consultation, which closes on Monday, Mrs Sykes said the group will submit a further 4,000.

Coun Ryan Stephenson (Conservative, Harewood), who is objecting to the SAP plans for Parlington, said the community response in objection to the plans was “unprecedented”.

He told the YEP: “Residents have delivered an unprecedented number of responses in objection to this consultation. When the plan comes before the Council On Wednesday 29th March I will therefore represent my constituents and vote against the Council’s proposed plan.

“By forcing 5000 homes upon the Outer North East area the council is tacitly approving the unnecessary development of greenfield and greenbelt land, which is particularly hard to stomach when the Council is sitting on a number of undeveloped inner-city urban brownfield sites.”

Once consultation ends next week, the SAP will be examined by a planning inspector before a report is prepared and the plan is officially adopted towards the end of 2017.

Coun Lewis said: “The Site Allocations Plan covers the whole of the district up to 2028. We have sought to use brownfield land wherever reasonable, but we have to ensure that housing need is met in every area, each of which is likely to grow in this period.

“The ward members for the Outer North East have made clear that they wish to see a majority of new housing on a single strategic site rather than smaller allocations across the area. After the Headley Hall proposals were withdrawn we had to consider another site in order to meet their ambition. Parlington is one of those areas and following the previous round of consultation it has been proposed that the allocation is reduced to 1,850 homes in the Site Allocations Plan.

“We welcome the comments from local residents as part of this consultation. As with every comment we receive in this consultation we will make sure the Examiner and Secretary of State, who make the final decision, are aware of the comments on the Parlington site.

“We have asked central government for the power to exclusively use brownfield sites first, but this has been rejected."

The Parlington estate has areas of historical significance, including Iron Age British settlements and the 18th century triumphal arch.#

To comment on the SAP, visit www.siteallocations.leeds.gov.uk

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