Airedale Mills development: Fears new Leeds homes near Rodley Nature Reserve would destroy wildlife

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There are fears wildlife and animals at a beloved nature reserve will be disrupted if plans to build new homes are approved this week.

Developers want to put up 67 houses on land once occupied by the old Airedale Mills industrial site in west Leeds. The idea was given planning permission in principle in 2019, with the brownfield site having been empty since 1970s and the old Victorian textle mill building having been demolished.

But volunteers who run the neighbouring Rodley Nature Reserve say they’re concerned about the impact on species from being so close to a building site. Trustee Jerry Knapp said those associated with the popular reserve had submitted around 10 separate objections linked to the development.

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A planning meeting on Thursday will decide if the development can go ahead in its current proposed form, now that the finer details of the scheme have been put forward.

Volunteers who run Rodley Nature Reserve say they’re concerned about the impact of the new homes on species (Photo: Dan Oxtoby)Volunteers who run Rodley Nature Reserve say they’re concerned about the impact of the new homes on species (Photo: Dan Oxtoby)
Volunteers who run Rodley Nature Reserve say they’re concerned about the impact of the new homes on species (Photo: Dan Oxtoby)

Mr Knapp said: “There’s no doubt note has been taken of quite a lot of our comments, but there are still issues that we’re concerned about. We’d prefer not to have a building site there, but if we do have to have one we need to ensure it doesn’t damage the wildlife corridor that goes up the river.

“There’s still issues associated with the ecological buffer (between the site and the nature reserve), particularly to ensure the reserve is kept free from disturbance linked to the development.”

The reserve had previously expressed concerns about a canopy of trees around the site being axed to make way for the development. While Mr Knapp said concessions had been made by developers and those trees spared, other concerns remain.

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One bone of contention in particular is the prospect of a drainage pipe being placed along the “ecological buffer”, which is designed to protect the nature reserve from building works. Mr Knapp said the pipe offered “potential for damaging and potentially polluting water going into our water supply,” and thus harming water-based animals.

He added: “The nature reserve is 70 acres and run solely by volunteers. It’s achieved a level of national recognition in various ways, as well as local recognition. It’s something worth fighting for.”

Planning officers have recommended the application be approved by councillors, however. In a report going before Thursday’s meeting, officers said: “The proposal is considered to have some visual impact upon the character of the area when compared to the existing characteristics of the site.

“However, the site previously comprised substantial mill buildings used in the textile industry, and therefore the proposed development represents an appropriate form of development for this site.”

An old swing bridge, which provides access to the site from Town Street in Bramley, has recently been replaced, under the terms of the 2019 planning permission.

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