Council bosses in Leeds were today accused of a “massive U-turn” related to plans to build tens of thousands of new homes in the city.
Government-appointed inspectors were due to begin running the rule over Leeds City Council’s Site Allocations Plan (SAP) blueprint next week – but their schedule has now been suddenly changed.
Four years in the making, the SAP sets out proposals for the construction of 66,000 homes in 11 areas across Leeds up to 2028 and also earmarks land for future retail, employment and green space uses.
Coun Andrew Carter, leader of the opposition Conservative group on the Labour-run council, has previously criticised the 66,000 figure, saying it is too high and risks unnecessary green belt developments.
Now it has emerged that the Government is separately consulting on guidelines that could set a basic target of 42,000 new homes in Leeds by 2028.
The council says it needs time to carry out “technical work” to consider the implications of the proposed guidelines for the SAP.
As a result, the opening session of the inspectors’ legally-required public examination of the Leeds blueprint will not take place as planned on Tuesday.
The process will instead begin at Leeds Civic Hall on October 24 and focus solely on the SAP’s retail, employment and green space elements.
Aspects of the SAP covering new homes will not be looked at until sessions expected to start in March next year.
Coun Carter said: “Make no mistake about it, this is a massive U-turn by the ruling administration.
“It is simply baffling, despite all our warnings and efforts to make the case for a revised housing target, that the council’s ruling administration has ploughed ahead regardless.”
Coun Richard Lewis, the council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “It’s vital that we have the right long-term housing target for the city and that we don’t have any unnecessary loss of greenfield and green belt land.
“The Government’s latest consultation proposals came out of the blue for all local authorities and we need to take the time to fully consider their implications.”