A CAMPAIGNER has “cautiously welcomed” a statement from government planning inspectors which means green belt areas of Leeds originally earmarked for housing are set to be protected.
A public examination took place earlier this summer into the site allocations plan for Leeds, which identifies locations for new housing to meet future needs.
Government inspectors proposed protecting 33 green belt sites from development after they had been designated as possible locations for 6,450 homes.
As part of a review into the plans, two independent government-appointed inspectors have issued an interim statement on the plan which supports protecting the city’s green belt.
It states: “The inspectors are concerned that the identification of broad locations in the green belt would simply not help to deliver the adopted core strategy policies by ensuring that sufficient land is available in appropriate locations to meet the targets set out in the adopted core strategy and achieve the council’s ambitions.”
Adrienne Sykes, is chairperson of Save Parlington Action Group, which is fighting proposals to build up to 5,000 houses on green belt land between Aberford and Barwick-in-Elmet in east Leeds.
She said: “It is a step in the right direction, but we welcome the inspectors’ findings with caution.
“It’s only an interim view. The government inspectors haven’t revealed their findings on individual green belt sites.
“The inspectors have asked Leeds City Council to reassess the green belt sites that are still in the plan and assess whether there are better alternatives such as brownfield sites.”
Martin Hughes, a Horsforth town councillor and long-time greenbelt campaigner said the question remains about where the 6,450 houses are to be built.
He said: “It’s half a battle won. But it’s not a win. It’s a mild success but there is still a long way to go.”
The current site allocations plan sets out a requirement for 66,000 new homes in Leeds from 2012-2028.
But the inspectors have suggested that the council only needs to provide for housing needs up to 2023.
This would mean creating a new site allocations plan for housing needs after 2023.
‘PLAN WOULD END SPECULATION’
LEEDS City Council planning chief Coun Richard Lewis said the local authority is “delighted” inspectors have indicated support for the council’s approach to green belt protection.
Coun Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, added: “We know we still need to build more homes to meet the needs of the city as it continues to grow, and we are committed to as many of these as possible being affordable housing on brownfield sites.
“The site allocations plan aims to clarify which sites can come forward for housing in a sustainable way, and would put an end to speculative development in Leeds which is in nobody’s interest.”