New homes will be 'marooned' on a Leeds island as planning decision labelled a 'disgrace'

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The granting of planning permission for homes on a west Leeds island has been labelled a “disgrace” amid fears people could be left “marooned” for days.

A Leeds City Council planning committee signed off the finer details of a scheme to build 67 houses on the site of the old Airedale Mills textile factory, off Town Street in Rodley, on Thursday. But objectors insist that a recently installed replacement swing bridge, which is supposed to link the site to the rest of civilisation across the Leeds-Liverpool canal, still doesn’t work properly.

They fear residents will be left stranded in an emergency if the bridge can’t be pulled into the ‘down’ position to let road traffic across. But the committee was told that the bridge was irrelevant to Thursday’s discussions, as related conditions imposed on the developer had already been met.

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Senior planning officer Steve Butler insisted that the bridge had been “operating correctly” until its gearbox was damaged in an act of “vandalism” earlier this week. The committee subsequently voted six-to-four in favour of the plans. But speaking after the meeting, veteran local Conservative Coun Andrew Carter expressed fury at the decision.

The faulty bridge would leave residents "marooned", it was argued. Picture: Local Democracy Reporting Service.The faulty bridge would leave residents "marooned", it was argued. Picture: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The faulty bridge would leave residents "marooned", it was argued. Picture: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Coun Carter, who represents the Calverley and Farsley ward, said: “It’s a disgrace. It’s a dark day for democracy and it shows this council in a very poor light indeed. The simple fact is the bridge malfunctions all the time. It takes two people just to close it. I thank the four councillors who had the gumption to vote against it.”

Coun Carter also disputed Mr Butler’s suggestion the bridge had been vandalised, saying there was “as much evidence to the contrary” and it was “more than likely” to simply be “malfunctioning” again. Mr Butler had earlier said that those responsible for the bridge were sourcing supplies from Germany to repair it, and that the job was expected to be completed by next Wednesday.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has been told by those behind the planning application that the engineering firm Land and Water are responsible for the bridge. They were first contacted by LDRS for comment about the situation in February, and then again on Thursday, but have yet to respond.

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Earlier, committee member Coun Trish Smith said: “I would not be happy to see circa 200 of our residents marooned on an island, potentially for days on end. If there’s an incident on site during the development and the bridge isn’t working, then how do we safely get the builders off the site and to hospital?

“God forbid the site isn’t as secure as we’d like it to be, the local youngsters come and play and there’s an accident. There’s one way on and one way off and in my opinion, it’s not fit for purpose.”