Blaise Tapp: Planning not just about building homes

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There has been plenty of discussion in the pages of the YEP and media about Leeds City Council’s Site Allocations Plan, or SAP.

It is a widely held view, and certainly one shared by me, that the housing target set by Leeds City Council of 70,000 homes by 2028 is wrong, unsustainable, and unnecessarily damaging to the environment.

The Government’s 5 Year Land Supply is calculated against the council’s 70,000 target. To be frank, therefore, the council has ‘nowhere to run and nowhere to hide’, and the responsibility is theirs alone.

More and more evidence comes to light undermining Leeds City Council’s reasoning for 70,000 new homes. Ever since we argued they had used out of date and over-inflated population figures, the Office for National Statistics have confirmed that we were right and they were wrong.

It seems the administration on Leeds City Council actually wanted 70,000 houses all along, whether or not they were necessary, in the process sacrificing unnecessary greenbelt, forfeiting opportunities to regenerate derelict brownfield sites, and virtually ignoring the consultation process with local residents. We are left with the wholly unacceptable situation in which a handful of speculative housing developers cherry pick housing sites, with the council complicit by suggesting in their SAP that 34 per cent of the land take should be greenbelt. How can this be acceptable? If this council is allowed to get its way, we will have development far removed from where people work, with a consequent increase in commuter traffic, many communities facing the impact of a huge strain on their local services, road network, etc, and of course insufficient school places. And what of the provision for public open space? We have the ludicrous situation where there is less publicly accessible parkland per head of population in Leeds now than there was 70 years ago. Where are the plans to create new parkland for all these new residents, and indeed existing ones? I and my colleagues on the Conservative Group are committed to opposing the Site Allocations Plan when it goes to public inspection. The planning blueprint is crucial to the future of Leeds, and it should not just be about building houses, but preserving our environment, and enhancing it. Leeds City Council has got it wrong and communities throughout Leeds are already paying the price.”