‘Disappointment’ over approval of housing plan near 12th century church in Leeds

St John the Baptist Church in Adel.
St John the Baptist Church in Adel.
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Campaigners have spoken of their disappointment after councillors approved plans for a housing development near a historic church in Leeds.

Despite receiving 128 letters of objection - including three from Historic England - and no letters of support, Leeds City Council plans panel voted to approve outline plans for up to 100 homes and a school near 12th century St John the Baptist Church in Adel.

Neil Redfern, development management team principal for Historic England, said: “We are disappointed that the proposal for development east of Adel Beck has been granted.

“We have consistently objected to this, due to the harm that development will likely cause to the setting and significance of the Grade I listed St John the Baptist Church.

“We recommended to Leeds City Council that the proposals be amended to show that development be accommodated to the west of the beck instead. While Historic England offers advice on such matters, the Local Planning Authority makes the final decision on proposals.”

Campaigners had also raised objections including the use of greenfield land and an increase in traffic but in a report to panel, planning officers had recommended councillors approve the scheme.

Ian Bond, co-chairman of Adel Neighbourhood Forum, who was at the planning meeting, said there was a feeling of “extreme disappointment” among the community. He said: “It feels as though the views of the local community have been ignored.”

He said concerns remain over whether the development will blend into the landscape and the potential ‘creep factor’ - a gradual increase in development on the site in the future now approval has been granted for this scheme.

“Most of the development is going to be on the far side of the beck, and we have to make sure that we keep them to that and whatever happens on the east side of the beck [the closest to the church] is kept as open as possible.”

He said it was now about “damage limitation” and he hoped the developers would listen to residents’ request for a mix of housing and for “good quality design”.

Resident Jose Gascon said he plans to campaign for the entire development to move west of the beck.

“We need to push the council and developers to move it all west of the beck in order to minimise the harm to the church in the conservation area,” he said.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said the site forms part of the 10-year Leeds Site Allocations Plan approved by full council last month.

He said: “The panel considered the views of local residents and Historic England (in relation to the Listed St John’s Church) but on balance considered the proposal to be acceptable in principle. The scheme is in outline at this stage and a detailed application will still need to be submitted.”

Mark Johnson, agent for applicants Hallam Land Management Limited and Barrett David Wilson Homes, said: “We are pleased with the outcome and look forward to working with the council and community on the detailed application over the coming months.”