Campaigners rally against south Leeds industrial estate plans

Campaigners have vowed to fight against proposals to build a new industrial estate on rural land in south Leeds.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 3:23 pm
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 3:24 pm

Proposals to build Capitol Park on land around Topcliffe Beck off Dewsbury Road include more than a million square feet of “employment floorspace” as well as car parking, landscaping and links to nearby roads.

But the scheme has attracted dozens of complaints from nearby residents, with many feeling the scheme could impact on nearby traffic and can destroy a much-loved beauty spot.

Developers say the site would create an extra 2,000 jobs and 30 apprenticeships, and that it was “committed to Morley”.

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An artist impression of the plans. (Pic: Capitol)

A final decision on the site is expected later this year, but deputy mayor of Morley Coun Oliver Newton said he and others would be pushing the council for “full refusal”.

He said: “This fully goes against our environment agenda. Residents are very concerned about junction 28 and pollution and noise levels in the local area.

“It would be built on an area called Topcliffe Beck – people use it for walking dogs and exercising. People are looking for green spaces to walk along, particularly now.

“You get a fantastic panoramic view of Leeds and it’s what residents want to cherish and keep – they are completely right about this.

“It’s got to go to a plans panel which will be later this year – this gives us time to lodge any objections up to then.

“We will try and get the best possible deal we can for the residents in Morley, whether that is an agreement to source a certain amount of jobs in the area, but at the moment we haven’t crossed that bridge. We are going on a full refusal.

“If it does come to that, we will look at it, we always try to get the best deal we can.”

Plans for the site also received numerous written objections from locals.

One letter, whose contents appeared to have been copied by multiple objectors, stated: “The size, location and massing of the proposed buildings will have a significant negative impact on the residential amenity reducing quality of life for all residents.

“The impact on local roads and especially junction 28 has not been fully considered. Highways England already have significant concerns about the impact other applications have on junction 29 and the cumulative impact of all those proposals on the road and motorway network.”

A spokesman for developers Sterling Capitol said: “We are proud to have worked closely with Leeds City Council in delivering a significant contribution to the Yorkshire economy over the past 20 years, creating over 2,000 new jobs. We now want to see Leeds bounce back stronger, sooner rather than later, from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Leeds City Council has allocated this site for development in its Sites and Allocation Plan. We are now working with the council to bring forward the proposals for members to decide upon in due course.

“To demonstrate our commitment to Morley, we have developed an employment strategy that sets out a framework for supporting and enhancing Morley and the neighbouring area. In real terms, that means if our plans are approved, we could create another 2,000 sustainable jobs, providing a timely boost to the south Leeds economy, as well as generating over 30 apprenticeships opportunities over the lifetime of the build.”

A consultation document posted online by the developers describes the plans as including 1.1 million square feet of “manufacturing and logistics facilities with ancillary offices”, as well as car parking, cycle shelters, footpaths and landscaping.

It added the scheme would be “A high-quality development, built to the latest specifications and aimed at modern business requirements”, while improvements would be made to signalling at the nearby A653 (Dewsbury Road).

The application was submitted some months ago and was expected to have been decided by April 2021.

Leeds City Council was contacted about the plans but responded: “As this application is currently live and under assessment, we wouldn’t be able to comment on the specific application.”