£1m bill for travellers’ caravan site in Leeds city centre ‘will be repaid from HS2 cash’

Leeds Civic Hall

Leeds Civic Hall

Costs for a temporary gypsy and traveller caravan site in Leeds city centre have reached almost £1m after a new injection of cash.

But council bosses promise the investment - which will help pay for eight “modular” caravan pitches with kitchens and bathrooms - will benefit the city long-term because it will be recovered once the land is eventually sold as part of the proposed HS2,

A 10-year permission for the site in Kidacre Street - which sits along the HS2 high-speed rail route - was granted earlier this year.

According to a Leeds City Council report, the money being used comes from a fund that was earmarked for affordable housing, specifically from a housing development that was shelved.

Leeds council was ordered to up its traveller sites provisions following a public inquiry, and it is a key part of the authority’s Core Strategy - its long term development masterplan.

A report just approved by the council’s director of housing says the authority has already approved the use of almost £750,000 of “commuted sums” to help fund the development of Kidacre Street.

It adds that £176,000 of additional funding will now be injected from cash for a council housing scheme “which is no longer viable”.

The money will help towards the development of eight plots at the Kidacre Street site.

The council report explains: “There is currently a lack of provision of pitches across the city, which has been identified in the Core Strategy, and therefore the development constitutes as affordable

housing in accordance with the definition provided.

“A 10 year temporary permission has been granted due to the site being located along the proposed HS2 route.

“The proposed scheme would provide eight modular units including a kitchen and bathroom.

“The rationale behind provision of modular rather than brick built units is to enable their relocation when required, thereby ensuring the benefit of the investment made in the affordable housing units after the 10 year temporary permission expires.

“The money invested in the groundworks at the site will be recovered through the sale of the land for HS2.

“This will ensure that the funding can be recovered and re-invested into other schemes which will provide affordable housing in perpetuity.”