Legal battle in Leeds ‘village’ homes plan

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Leeds City Council is getting ready for a legal battle over controversial plans for 874 homes on a former munitions factory site.

A ‘non determination’ appeal hearing in September will decide if the authority has taken too long to make a decision on the sprawling plans for Thorp Arch Estate in Wetherby.

As previously reported, Rockspring Hanover Property Unit Trust (RHPUT) wants to create ‘Rudgate Village’ on the site.

The developer first placed an application for the site in 2005, but has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to step in because it says the council has not made a decision quick enough.

A meeting of the council’s City Plans Panel on Thursday was told that the application was considered “entirely disproportionate”.

Nikki Deol, section head of property and planning at the council, said it would cause “demonstrable and significant harm” to the local area.

People living in the surrounding area have battled the proposal for four years, with potential contamination problems, traffic congestion and a strain on existing infrastructure all among the key concerns raised,

Councillors at yesterday’s pre-hearing meeting at Leeds Civic Hall said the proposals as they stand are “character changing” for the area.

Coun Andrew Carter urged the authority’s legal team to “use all the weapons in our armoury when it comes to refusing this application”.

Fellow panel member Elizabeth Nash said the scheme was “not viable”, pointing out that the lack of a relief road was a key factor.

Coun Tom Ledley noted that all major developments have a similar problem of “how on earth do people come up with the infrastructure before they have even built a house?”

“It’s hard to see what you would do with it in the long run, “he added.

“You can’t see it continuing as it is. It may have to come back for housing, but they would need to come up with the proper infrastructure.”

The council has until August 10 to finalise its case.