Community groups speak out against Otley housing plans

Plans to build more than 700 houses on a site in Otley, are “totally disproportionate”, and will increase the size of the town by nearly a third, community groups have claimed.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 5:18 pm

Earlier this month, a hybrid planning application for a huge development to the East of Otley for a mixed use site of up to 700 houses and a major new link road was submitted.

The community groups, the East of Otley Action Group and Wildlife Friendly Otley, both believe the development will lead to a loss of local green space and wildlife habitats.

But Leeds City Council insists these are early plans, and that the exact numbers of houses have not yet been finalised.

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Part of the site in Otley. (Pic: Googlemaps)

According to outline documents submitted to Leeds City Council planners last week, the scheme proposes to build “circa 700” homes, as well as include a new road, to be known as the East of Otley Relief Road. Around 12 acres of employment land would also be included, as well as a two-form entry primary school and “extensive amounts of public open space”.

The relocation of Otley Rugby Club’s pitches will also be part of the plan.

The plans are were created by Persimmon Homes and Leeds City Council themselves.

A statement from the East of Otley Action Group said: “We are not against any development of the site as we recognise that Otley needs more affordable housing and other amenities, but this scheme is totally disproportionate.

“Originally, and still as recently as January, the plan was for 550 houses on a 50 hectare site. Now they have increased the number of houses by a staggering 30 percent to 700 and an extra 7 hectares. The rationale behind the new link road is to relieve congestion in Otley but this many houses, a new school and land for employment will not only increase traffic but also put a huge strain on services such as GP surgeries and other overstretched amenities.

“The Otley Neighbourhood Plan appears to have been totally ignored by Leeds City Council who are part of the consortium. We are entitled to ask whose interests are the Council serving: the developers or the people of Otley? We would also question how this plan fits in with the commitments made to sustainability goals of the Leeds Climate Emergency Commission.”

“The consortium’s plan is based on old thinking and is out of date. Things have changed. This was an opportunity to have an exemplar development for sustainable housing and meaningful measures to protect the rich natural environment and it’s been wasted and unless it changes significantly we will be forced to oppose it.”

Leeds City Council said the exact numbers of houses are not finalised, and encouraged people to have their say on the outline plans.

A response from the council read: “The East of Otley site is a site allocated for mixed use in the adopted Leeds Unitary Development Plan, 2006 and carried forward in the recently adopted Leeds Site Allocations Plan, 2019 with an indicative site capacity of 550 units.

“The figure of 700 units is not yet confirmed and is dependent on the outcome of further technical work. An application is currently live and available to view on the council’s planning portal.

“This is a hybrid application with full details for a new road, relocated playing pitches and phase one residential development of circa 140 new homes. It should be emphasised that the relocation of the playing pitches is to reflect commitments to the rugby club and does not form part of the allocated site for development.

“The rest of the site falls under an outline application, where the principles are established, but details of numbers, layout and design are yet to be submitted and will follow at a future date through reserved matters.

“Everyone can make their comments on the live planning application, which will all be taken into account. The consultation period has been extended to July 16, given concerns over the amount of documents submitted as part of the application.

“It is premature to comment on the details of the scheme but determination of the planning application will be made based on a balanced consideration of all relevant policies at national and local level, including the Otley Neighbourhood Plan which is a part of the Leeds Local Plan.”

If you’re interested in viewing the application and making a comment, visit https://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/ and enter the code 21/01671 in the search bar at the bottom of the page.