Rodley: Green light for Airedale Mills development, despite ongoing concerns

The Airedale Mills site in Rodley.

By John Baron

Councillors have today approved in principle long-running plans for new homes on the former Airedale Mills site in Rodley.

Detailed proposals for 67 new homes were first submitted in December 2021 by Casa By Moda (part of construction giants Caddick).

Councillors on the plans south and west plans panel approved the plans in priciple, with six voting in favour, four against and one abstention.

The decision comes despite widespread opposition in Rodley, with ongoing concerns over the reliability of a recently-installed swing bridge which links to the ‘island’ site. They fear residents will be left stranded in an emergency if the bridge can’t be pulled into the ‘down’ position to let road traffic across.

One Calverley & Farsley councillor labeled the panel’s decision ‘a bloody disgrace’ after the meeting.

The new troublesome swing bridge linked to the Airedale Mills development. Picture courtesy of Leeds City Council/YouTube.

During the meeting, Cllr Trish Smith (Cons, Pudsey) raised concerns about the unreliability of the newly installed swing bridge, which has has broken down several times and was closed yesterday due to alleged ‘vandalism’.

Describing it as ‘the elephant in the room’ she added: “I am not a fan of this development purely based on the access.

“I would not be happy to think of circa 200 of our residents marooned on an island potentially for days on end. I just see it as a very unsafe set of circumstances.

“Let’s be honest, it’s a fantastic place to live, who wouldn’t want to live there? On paper it’s a really nice development. But there are an awful lot of unanswered questions. We as members are negligent if we don’t address the elephant inn the room with regards the bridge.”

Cllr Smith also raised concerns about displaced parking in the area.

Senior planning officer Steve Butler said the bridge was irrelevant to today’s discussions, as related conditions imposed on the developer had already been met. He said issues with the bridge related to earlier outline approval, not to the latest detailed planning application before councillors.

Mr Butler said that the Canal and River Trust had agreed that the privately owned bridge was now in a position to be discharged and signed off.

He added that the development ‘washes its own face’ in terms of parking and is policy compliant.

Cllr Paul Wray (Lab, Hunslet) said the development was a ‘reasonably well-balanced application’ and added: “It’s a reasonably good application and most concerns have been addressed.”

Cllr Robert Finnigan (Morley Borough Independent) raised concerns about how much energy would be generated by heat pumps at the development. “It’s time we put the environment first,” he said.

Cllr Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) raised concerns over the lack of greenspace in the development, and what he claimed was ‘sub-standard housing’.

And Cllr John Garvani (Lab, Horsforth) raised concerns over proposed ‘maintenance’ of the ecology buffer between the development and the nature reserve. He said the buffer should be left alone.

Councillors voted to approve the plans and defer planning conditions – including affordable housing of 10 units and off-site greenspace enhancements of £50,000 – to the chief planning officer for final approval.

The principle of the development – called the outline stage – were approved two years ago, with the bridge opening in January. 

The plans had been met with 214 objections, with concerns including the visual impact of the development, ‘poor’ design of the properties and concerns over access and parking. Council planning officers said they had worked with the developer to tackle many of the concerns.

The agenda and reports can be read in full here. The meeting can be viewed in full here:

Councillor criticises decision

Councillor Andrew Carter (Cons, Calverley & Farsley) labelled he decision ‘a bloody disgrace’ after the meeting and said he had filed a formal complaint against the council’s planning department.

“It’s a dark day for democracy and they have not taken all the issues into account,” he told WLD.

“It’s not about whether the development should or shouldn’t go ahead, it is about trying to make it a development that will work for everybody, and that includes the people who will live there, as well as existing Rodley residents.

“It’s about protecting the cricket club and the nature reserve, all of which has, in my opinion, been ignored. It is a sad day.”

Councillor Carter also disputed Mr Butler’s suggestion the bridge had been vandalised, saying there was “as much evidence to the contrary” and it was “more than likely” to simply be “malfunctioning” again.

Mr Butler had earlier said that those responsible for the bridge were sourcing supplies from Germany to repair it, and that the job was expected to be completed by next Wednesday.



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