Proposals to build up to 130 houses on open fields in New Farnley have been approved in principle by Leeds City Council.
As previously reported, Redrow Homes and Park Lane Homes applied for initial outline planning permission to build the houses on a triangle of empty fields off Whitehall Road and demolish two houses to provide access to the site.
Their plans drew more than 230 individual letters of objection, as well as a 300-name petition in opposition.
Councillors sitting on the south and west plans panel approved the proposals in principle by five votes to three. Final approval on the proposals was delegated to the council’s chief planning officer, subject to a number of conditions being met.
Conditions include 15% of the properties being affordable housing, a contribution by the developer of £30,000 towards the creation of a 20mph speed limit on neighbouring roads, £62,000 towards a sustainable travel fund, and the creation of public open space on the site.
The decision was debated for the second time at the Civic Hall meeting this afternoon – the proposals were deferred from the March plans meeting due to concerns about bus services, the capacity of local schools and overall sustainability of the development.
Cllr Mick Coulson (Lab, Pudsey) said the development was unsustainable from an education point of view as there weren’t enough places in local schools. He added:
“There is a Co-op store and a fish and chip shop there, but when it was only a village it had its own school but doesn’t have one now. It is unacceptable.”
Cllr Coulson also queried already busy public transport links in the area.
He was backed by Morley Borough Independent councillor Robert Finnigan, who questioned education officers over the number of available school places in year one at Ryecroft Academy. He added:
“The bottom line is that we have got kids who have nowhere to go for their primary school education. If it’s about sustainable development, this clearly is not sustainable.”
Council officers at the meeting argued that there were enough places in the area and said that while both Lawns Park School in Farnley and Cobden Primary School in Lower Wortley were over-subscribed they suggested Ryecroft Academy in Farnley or Gildersome Primary School had capacity to cater for extra demand.
Highways officers also said that the frequency of buses met planning policy guidelines.
Cllr Neil Walshaw (Lab, Headingley) said he was ‘reluctantly’ minded to approve the plan as it did not contravene planning regulations and that the council would likely lose any appeal to a planning inspector by the developers. He added councillors were ‘in a bind’ and should not ‘invent fancy planning law in their heads’:
“It comes as a point of law.”
Residents say the development would be based on so-called ‘PAS’ land which is protected from development until 2028, would add to existing problems with traffic congestion and a lack of local services which would make the estate unsustainable.
Councillors also heard that there was a need for more housing in Leeds.
A planning report considered by councillors – which can be read in full here – concluded that the site was sustainable and the proposals did not contravene national planning policy.