Plans stall for 450 houses in Churwell as concerns raised about proposed school site

Leeds City Council planning chiefs have not yet come to a decision on whether to allow 450 houses to be built on farm land in Churwell.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 4:45 am
A reserved matters application from Persimmon Homes for the site off Victoria Road went before the authority’s City Plans Panel this week.

A reserved matters application from Persimmon Homes for the site off Victoria Road went before the authority’s City Plans Panel this week.

Council planning officers claimed they had encouraged the developer to reduce the number of proposed houses in the development, and had suggested councillors approve the plans in principle.

But many members of the panel were unconvinced by the quality of the plans, and were concerned around drainage issues and the proposed future site for a school, for which the developers had offered the land but would not build.

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Speaking at the meeting, Coun Peter Carlill (Lab) said: “We need to look at how this will be safe for children to cross the road when they go to school.

“The school will come forward as a future application, but I do want us to carefully look at how that school should be.”

The plan would see the houses built in a green field underneath electricity pylons.

According to a report by Leeds City Council officers, the development will be made up of 23 two bed apartments, eight two bed bungalows, 102 two bed semi/terrace houses, 125 three bed semi/terrace houses, 84 three bed detached and 108 four bed semi/terrace/detached houses.

The site would also contain a 1.8 hectare area of land for a primary school to be built in the future. But councillors believed the proposed school site was in a difficult location for traffic, and were concerned that no commitment had been made by anyone to actually build the school.

Coun Robert Finnigan (MBI) said: “One of the most interesting and puzzling areas is to do with public open spaces.

"Children can play under electricity pylons – you would advise your kids very strongly not to fly a kite.

“Is this a quality development? We should get a development that is the best possible – this is far from the best possible.”

Coun Colin Campbell (Lib Dem) said: “The more we talk about it, the more concerned I have become about the detail of this development. There is no way I can support this.”

Coun Caroline Gruen (Lab) said: “I am concerned that the school will have to come along from a different developer. I think there is a strong possibility that it might not come forward.

“Whoever designed the school to be in that position was clearly not thinking about the school, they were thinking about the development.

“It is still a really ordinary development.”

Coun Paul Wadsworth (Con) said: “I am not confident the school will ever come on stream. It will be a significant detriment if we are not going to build the school.”

Coun Neil Buckley (Con) : “It would be a dereliction of our duty if we did anything other than decline this or refer it back (to officers).”

The council’s own rules require 15 per cent of new builds to be classed as affordable housing (20 percent cheaper than local market rates) – 68 of these houses would fall into this bracket.

A report by council officers into the plans had recommended the plans be approved in principle, adding: “The site is an important strategic housing site, and the largest allocation within the south Leeds area and overall the design of the dwellings, together with the proposed layout, provides a housing scheme that responds to the general character.

“With consideration being given to all other matters, the proposal is considered to be acceptable and recommended for approval subject to conditions.”

Councillors agreed to defer the item for officers to get more information from the developers around drainage, the future of the proposed school site and the quality of the builds. It is expected to go back before the panel in the coming months.