Blueprints for sites where more than 50,000 new homes are expected to be built across Leeds over the next 14 years are now one step closer, following a meeting of Leeds City Council decision-makers, writes Richard Beecham.
The authority’s executive board approved six weeks of consultation on its Core Strategy Selective Review to run until Friday, June 28, with an opportunity for members of the public to have their comments heard on the plans.
After changes suggested in a report by an independent planning inspector have now been included following a public inquiry, Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said she hoped this would be the final stage before the council rubber-stamps the plans. She said:
“The Core Strategy Selective Review is a vital piece of work for the future of the city, and hopefully this will be the final round of public consultation before we can get this process concluded and an updated core strategy in place.
“We’d like to hear the views of as many as possible so we get these revised policies adopted and in place to ensure all future development in Leeds is managed in a planned and sustainable way.”
The proposed changes were put forward by independent government-appointed planning inspector Claire Sherratt, following the public hearing sessions.
They involve changes to wording to make the Core Strategy more closely aligned to national planning policy, on areas such as housebuilding standards, affordable housing levels, accessibility in new housing. Other changes include addressing the need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, sustainability, green space and limiting the environmental impact of new housing in the city.
However, the inspector’s proposed modifications will not alter the overall new housing target for Leeds put forward in the review, which is proposed to be 51,952 new homes between 2017 and 2033.
Although this replaces the existing Core Strategy target of 70,000 new homes between 2012 and 2028, Leeds Conservatives deputy leader Coun Alan Lamb believes this figure is still too high. He said:
“The Council’s initial plan for 70,000 houses has been definitively debunked, and it’s good news that the proposed housing target has been reduced to 52,000.
“As we have long argued, the original figure was far too high, and we believe it should have been cut further to around the 42,000 mark, saving more greenfield and green belt sites and reducing the harmful impact of unnecessary development on our towns and villages.
“The fact that the Council has recently declared a climate emergency matters a great deal in this context. Despite claims in the report, I cannot see how the scale of development proposed in the current plan is compatible with the level of action and urgency needed to meet the city’s environmental ambitions. More housing of this magnitude, however sustainably planned, will surely mean more challenges around traffic, CO2, and waste.”
All of the responses received in the consultation will be sent to the planning inspector who is expected to produce a final report to be considered by Leeds City Council’s executive board and then debated at a meeting of full council later this year.
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