Battle to save trio of Leeds fields from development moves up a gear

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RESIDENTS of a Leeds village were last night gathering in force to show their opposition to a major housing development on a trio of local green fields.

People power has already led to significant amendments to the originally planned 370-home project for Church Fields in East Ardsley, South Leeds.

The number of proposed homes has been slashed to 299 after more than 330 people submitted official objections about impact on infrastructure and the size of the development. Developer Barratt Homes has also reserved two hectares of land to be used as a school.

The updated proposals will be debated by Leeds council’s City Plans Panel on Thursday, with a full decision later this year.

Local Labour councillor Lisa Mulherin said: “It is positive that the developers have responded to some of the concerns. In particular, it is good to see that they have reduced number of houses and accepted the need for a new primary school.

“However, many of us will still question whether this development is required on this land. The sheer weight of local opposition to these proposals indicates quite clearly the strength of feeling locally that this valued greenfield site should be protected.

“I urge local residents to continue to making their voices heard about the Church Fields scheme.”

The long planning history of the site goes back to 1975, when an application was submitted and refused a year later. It was later designated a Protected Area of Search. This meant it was protected from development, but only in the short term and until a local need was identified.

Scores of people were expected to attend a meeting outside St Michael’s Church Hall in East Ardsley last night to voice their fears.

Among the objectors is Eric Smith, who has lived in the area for 17 years. He said his home is “just yards” from the proposed development, and as he and his wife are both blind, the development will “change our lives completely”. The 64-year-old explained that access for him, his wife Anne and their guide dogs would be difficult. “It will completely throw us, as all access would be through the new estate,” he said.

A report to be presented to planning chiefs on Thursday acknowledges the “real concerns” of locals. Coun Mulherin is quoted in the report as saying: “Building on this greenfield site is against the council’s brownfield first policy. There are plenty of brownfield sites across the Leeds district that could be developed first.”

A spokeswoman from Barratt Homes previously told the YEP: “We are determined to not only provide fantastic homes for the people of Morley but also to consider their needs and opinions.”

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