More needs to be done to protect greenbelt sites between Leeds and Bradford councils in order to keep the two cities separate, a meeting heard this week.
A public hearing has begun into Leeds City Council plans on where tens of thousands of new houses should be built in the city over the next decade.
Speaking at the first day of a public examination of the revised site allocations plan, local politicians and members of the public said the current plan does not include enough detail on how to protect greenbelt areas.
Leader of Leeds City Council’s Conservatives Andrew Carter (Cans, Calverley and Farsley) said:
“It (greenbelt sites) stretches a great deal further than Aireborough. We have stretches of green land all the way down to Pudsey in the west and Morley in the south.
“That is a strategic green belt separating two great population centres, and this is very important. No mention has been made of any discussions on this with the city of Bradford.”
A community representative added:
“It is entirely unclear to us what analysis has been undertaken with respect to the greenbelt with neighbouring authorities.
“It seems to us that the issue of greenbelt has been left out of the discussions between authorities.”
“This concerns us a lot,” added Jennifer Kirkby, another member of the public.
“There is a difference of opinion in Bradford and Leeds’ understanding of the green belt purpose.
“There are signs of disagreements between Bradford and Leeds on greenbelt sites. We think there should be a statement of common ground between Leeds and Bradford.”
Council officers claimed that the authority had worked with Bradford Council on the green belt issue.
The site allocations plan sets out locations identified for possible future housing, as set down by 2014’s core strategy, which recommended up to 66,000 new homes in Leeds between 2012 and 2028.
Leeds City Council asked for the housing element of the strategy to be put on hold so it could carry out further public consultation.
And with new lower overall housing targets for Leeds, the consultation sought to give further powers to the proposed site allocations plan to protect 33 sites in green belt areas from housing.
These sites had been identified as being the locations for 6,450 future homes, but under the council’s revised recommendation would now be retained as green belt.
The meeting was told the site allocations plan was not not a separate plan, but a “daughter document” to the core strategy adopted in November 2014.
Leeds City Council’s executive member for planning Richard Lewis (Lab, Pudsey) said:
“The city council recognises the importance in having certainty over what gets built where.
“We must protect our green belt from unnecessary developments.
“We need to consider specialist housing needs. We need to take a responsible approach to housing growth.
“We are confident that we have submitted a comprehensive plan that meets all legal requirements.
“It can all be part of a legacy we can be really proud of.”
The plan received more than 50,000 public comments during consultation, all of which have been passed on along with the revised plan to the government inspectors as part of their considerations.
The hearings at Civic Hall are expected to last for around three weeks, ending in early August.