Rothwell Labour councillors’ response to site allocations in Rothwell, Oulton, Woodlesford and Carlton

Green field Karen and DavidHere are the comments so far from me and my ward colleague Cllr David Nagle on the site allocations proposed for the Rothwell ward. We’ve actively asked local people to tell us what they think of the proposed site allocations and I’ve tried to include as much as possible of what local people have told us, along with our three neighbourhood forums in Rothwell, Oulton & Woodlesford and Carlton. Any further input would be very welcome and amendments and additions can be made. Pictures are around the ward and not necessarily site specific, to break up and illustrate the large amount of text in this post.

Leeds City Council has produced its local plan showing land that could be available for housing during the next 15 years. The government requires the council to do this and make new land available to show there is enough supply. Any development would still need planning permission in the normal way and some sites, especially those in later phases will not be built for some years.

Despite our strenuous objections the draft plan still includes some sites for housing which we feel are unsuitable. We are submitting our formal response to the public consultation on the site allocations process on behalf of local people and there is still time for local people to have their say before the deadline of 5pm on Monday 16 November 2015. We have taken into account residents’ and neighbourhood forum comments we’ve received so far and will continue to listen to what people have to say up to the deadline date as we make our submission. Woodlesford and Oulton Neighbourhood Forum with our backing are asking for an extension of four weeks to this deadline for consultation for the Outer South area to allow time for a possible announcement on HS2 to be taken into account in submissions, it is unknown at this time whether this will be granted.

Our stance is that we firmly believe that our green belt should not be built on while there are brownfield sites anywhere in Leeds. It’s lovely here because we’re surrounded by green fields and we want to keep it that way. It’s important to stand up for our area along with local people and our neighbourhood forums, making our voices as a community heard!

The government informed all councils they needed to develop a plan to show land for housing for the next 15 years and planning laws have been relaxed to encourage building of homes. Sites allocated for housing in the outer south area which covers Rothwell are 4% of the total, which is lower than most of the other areas in Leeds. However, we are concerned that some green belt land is included. The public consultation process is a chance for everyone to have a say on where future development might be.

We were assured by planning officers that through the consultation, well thought through changes could be made to the site allocation proposals. Historically, Leeds had a sequential brownfield-first policy. This meant, simply, that with more than 340 brownfield sites available across the city, Leeds was demonstrating not only local supply but also protecting greenbelt sites from speculative development requests. Indeed, there are currently many brownfield sites with live planning permissions in place for in excess of 10,000 homes. These would, based on current housing projections and population growth forecasts, deliver sufficient land supply for at least ten years.

The list of Council owned brownfield sites, and their current standings, is available here:

This clearly shows, I believe, that there is actually no need to actively progress sensitive land supply. So why is Leeds being asked to forfeit greenbelt sites, when there are live permissions granted and a brownfield supply available to satisfy the housing needs of the city for at least a decade?

The simple answer is that there has been a loss of local planning control due to the demands of the Government and the Government Inspector. In Leeds there have been ten successful appeals from developers who had submitted applications for housing development on greenbelt land. All were planning permissions rejected by Leeds City Council, in line with the sequential brownfield policy, but later passed by the Government Planning Inspector. And this was replicated on sensitive sites up and down the country.

Developers now have the right to submit applications on any land in any location, with a guarantee of winning on appeal, unless the council can demonstrate sufficient land supply. And this land supply must be adequate across each HMCA.

HMCAs were established through the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), which was prepared by consultants for the council through 2010 and published in 2011.  They were designed to reflect market areas that people relate to when they are looking for a house; they also relate to the four affordable housing zones.

Rothwell ward, which also includes Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton, is in the Outer South HMCA.

It is clear that without a plan and agreed numbers that could demonstrate a 15 year land supply, the alternative would be to lose appeal after appeal. We would be faced with rampant development across every area of the Rothwell ward, with little or no Town & Country Planning Section 106 monies (the funds paid by builders to develop infrastructure or its replacement, the Community Infrastructure Levy).  The council effectively had to negotiate a housing number with the Government and demonstrate it was working towards a site allocation plan. And while it may not guarantee stopping speculative development, it is the only way to ensure it is much less likely to succeed and satisfy the Government Planning Inspector as to land supply.

When the government inspector overturns local planning decisions at appeal, the cost is picked up by you, the local taxpayer. The Government having relaxed the planning rules, has, in effect, taken the final say away from local councils.

Site specific comments:


HG2-173 Haighside

The site is unsustainable and is therefore unsound and not justified because

  • The infrastructure of Rothwell and in the immediate vicinity around the top of Wood Lane cannot cope with the sheer IMG_8186scale of this development:
  • We strongly believe this site on open green belt land is unsuitable for such a potential housing development. It is not justified to remove this site in preference to other rejected Green Belt sites where they do not fulfil as important a role in Green Belt terms as this site.
  • This site represents urban sprawl.
  • This site serves as an important gap between Rothwell and Robin Hood – building on this gap would see Rothwell sprawling towards Robin Hood.
  • Access to such a large site through existing residential streets and also near to the busy and problematic T junction at Jaw Bones cannot be justified when other sites with better access have been rejected as site allocations
  • There are sites in the Outer South that were identified as Green in the Issues and Options consultation, specifically land at Hope Farm, Robin Hood, which were assessed against the Site Methodology more favourably but have been rejected for reason of local preference for other sites. There is no local preference from the Rothwell community for the site at Haigh Side. We have been contacted by many residents who are unhappy with Haigh Side being allocated as a housing site.
  • This area off Wood Lane is unsuitable for major development due to infrastructure and facilities not being in place so it is unsustainable. There is very little in the way of services and facilities at this top end of Rothwell which makes this site an unsound element of the council’s plan. We don’t believe that this site has been positively prepared, justified, effectively or consistently with national policy. Therefore, we believe it should be removed from the council’s plan.
  • The highways network is unsuitable. Already problematic situation at T-junction at Jaw Bones, at the end of Wood Lane. At rush hour residents have reported to us suffering regular long delays at this bottle neck and journey times into Leeds from Rothwell, being held back at the traffic lights whilst traffic is allowed to flow on the main Wakefield to Leeds road.
  • Protection of Haigh Side Wood (off Low Shops Lane). Working with the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum and the council, we are working for improvements to bring it up to community asset standard and ensure protection of the wood. We have already had an independent expert visit the wood with us to provide guidance on how best to do this. This wood, the beck and surrounding countryside are important to this area of Rothwell.
  • The presence of power lines could make development problematic and compromise needed to accommodate these could result in a poor quality development. Could this large number of housing be delivered here given these constraints and if not, what additional land would be needed to make up for the shortfall?
  • Local schools are already at capacity. For a development this size a new primary school would have to be planned for as part of the site, with part of land needed to provide a new school. A school on a different site in Robin Hood without housing development is not justified and it is not justified not to have a school here if the site remains as an allocation.
  • Locals already have to wait to see a doctor. For a development of this size a new doctor’s surgery would be necessary and planned for, with part of land needed for new surgery.
  • Public transport needs would need to be catered for with a development of this size and development couldn’t happen until improvements are made.
  • It is planned that the new NGT trolleybus system will come as far as Stourton, However, we feel that this would have no effect on the road situation coming out of Rothwell at Jaw Bones end and in our view additional residential development in the area would exacerbate current problems. We feel that the current infrastructure would not be able to cope with a large residential development at this site and feel that these concerns have not yet been addressed.
  • If such a large development was to remain in the housing plan in Rothwell, we would need the next leg of NGT to come directly through Rothwell, to be of benefit to our community and cope with the population increase and increase in movement of people.
  • This site is included for phase 2. If this, in our view, unsuitable development was still to be included in the plan this site, if approved should not be released until Phase 3 as if a review is carried out by the Council on housing numbers this allocation may not be required and could be retained as Greenbelt.

HG2-174 Wood Lane next to Garden Centre

The site is unsustainable and is therefore unsound and not justified because

  • We strongly believe this site on green belt land is unsuitable for such a potential housing development.
  • This area off Wood Lane is unsuitable for major development due to infrastructure and facilities not being in place so it is unsustainable. There is very little in the way of services and facilities at this top end of Rothwell which makes this site unsound element of the council’s plan. We don’t believe that this site has been positively prepared, justified, effectively or consistently with national policy. Therefore, we believe it should be removed from the council’s plan.
  • Traffic situation at T-junction at Jaw Bones, at the end of Wood Lane. At rush hour residents have reported to us suffering regular long delays at this bottle neck.
  • Local schools are already full. For a development this size a new primary school would have to be planned for, with part of land needed to provide a new school.
  • Locals already have to wait to see a doctor. For a development of this size a new doctor’s surgery would be necessary and planned for, with part of land needed for new surgery.
  • Public transport needs would need to be catered for with a development of this size and development couldn’t happen until improvements are made.

HG2-183 Swithens Street

The site is unsustainable and is therefore unsound and not justified because

  • This site is on green belt land. Brownfield land should be built on first.
  • Traffic situation and local roads. The access to this site would be horrendous. Swithens Street is a farm road leading up to Swithens Farm and cannot cope with such a development. Tractors and horses are a regular feature. Residents should write from their own perspective of this. It is very narrow at the bottom of Swithens Street.
  • Local schools are already full.
  • Locals already have to wait to see a doctor.
  • In the plan this site is potentially for older people. Being situated on a hill it is unsuitable for older people’s housing. It is not suitable for scooters and is a steep hill for older people to walk up.

HG2-175 Bullough Lane

The site is not justified or effective unless several issues are resolved

  • Local concerns around this site are that access to the site should not be through the John O’ Gaunts estate. This estate would not be able to cope with an influx of extra vehicular traffic into a new development. This could be a danger to local children playing and other local residents living on the estate.
  • A suggestion was made at the recent Rothwell neighbourhood forum that a site in this vicinity could lend itself to access towards the motor way. This would make it much easier to access.

New Site which has not previously been considered

Motor Auctions site, Rothwell

  • This is one of the few brown field sites within the housing characteristic area, which is an important consideration bearing in mind that all proposed allocated sites within Rothwell are Greenfield sites.
  • We strongly believe that where possible brownfield sites should be built on before greenfield sites, which should only ever be built on as a last resort.
  • The site is flat and regular in shape. Is contained by the A630 to the North and Stybank Lane to the East. It can be easily accessed both from the Pontefract Road and Stybank Lane boundaries.
  • Stybank Lane provides direct access to Rothwell and the A630 provides direct access to Leeds.
  • There is a range of local amenities close by, including recreation fields, pubs and restaurants and a Tesco Express supermarket is within easy access, together with a children’s nursery soon to be built. However in common with all proposed allocated sites in Rothwell, there is a shortfall in education provision. If the whole motor auctions site was utilized for development there would also be a possibility of locating school provision on the site.
  • The site lends itself well to development without being intrusive to the existing community without it being overseen and therefore the visual impact for the community will be lessened .The development itself would be well screened from the adjacent roads.
  • The sites is at present primarily used to store motor vehicles that are sold through a motor auction business at the site. This site would be valuable for housing use and if provision could be made for the auction business within the Aire Valley this would be much more justifiable for Rothwell than wholly relying on the use of agricultural mostly greenbelt/greenfield land.

New greenspace sites for consideration

Haighside Wood

This site is suitable for inclusion in the Site Allocation Plan;

  • This Wood, which is owned by Leeds City Council, has been in the past the subject of reclamation and upgrading work (together with associated and linked former railway tracks). A number of other former railway track routes already constitute Green Space and the addition of Haighside Wood and the former tracks would considerably strengthen the network.
  • In this part of Rothwell there is a lack of wooded areas and Haighside Wood is a hub for wildlife due to the connectivity it presently enjoys with the Haigh Beck and the aforementioned tracks. At the same time the Wood is accessed by a public footpath (Public Footpath No 54) that allows public access. This means it is accessible for community use. It has the potential to be a community asset and be further upgraded and used even more. Councillors and Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum are working with the council to make improvements to bring the wood up to community asset standard.
  • Haigh Beck comes from a spring local to Haighside Wood and flows down toward Rothwell Centre and through Spring Head Park, we understand, as the River Dolphin, eventually becoming Oulton Beck.

Swithens Plantation

This site is suitable for inclusion in the Site Allocation Plan;

We support the Rothwell Neighbourhood Forum’s position on Swithens Plantation.

Swithens Plantation is a mature wood that has not been recognised as a Green Space, but is an important component of local green infrastructure. Though the wood resides on private land, it provides a positive contribution to biodiversity emanating from its level of maturity and connectivity to the large tract of land that is Oulton Hall golf course. To omit the plantation from the Green Space allocation is considered not to be justifiable in the context of the aims and functions of the Strategic Green Infrastructure Network and is a natural habitat worthy of designation.

Woodlesford and Oulton

The government’s preferred route of HS2 through Woodlesford has a significant impact onIMG_5854.jpg proposed site allocations in the Woodlesford and Oulton areas and should be taken fully into account. Residents nearby are in limbo and their lives have effectively been put ‘on hold’. As Woodlesford is being expected by the government to take the devastation that HS2 coming through would cause and having to take a share of the toll from national infrastructure, this cannot be ignored when looking at site allocations.

Not enough affordable housing or bungalows. The Woodlesford and Oulton neighbourhood forum has identified the need for bungalows for local people moving to retirement homes to enable them to stay in the local area.

MX2-14 Coopers Garage

This site could be suitable for mixed use development. We don’t want to lose this site as a business site but in the plan it assumes that the garage will be destroyed. This location is potentially suitable for older people’s housing being close to amenities. Flooding could be an issue.

  • Site currently occupied by Cooper’s garage, one of the major sources of employment in Oulton and Woodlesford.
  • The site has been reclassified for mixed development, this could allow for the garage business to remain as part of the site.
  • We would support the southern part of the site to be developed to strengthen the Oulton village hub.
  • The site would be ideal for housing for elderly persons. Being well situated for this, being near to shops, post office and a café and on a bus route. Such a development will increase the site’s capacity.
  • Frontage on to Midland Street has potential for development of a further terrace of two-bedroom houses similar to those recently developed further up Midland Street .

HG2-180 between Fleet Lane and Methley Lane

We believe the site is unsustainable and is therefore unsound and not justified because the site:

  • Is within the Greenbelt
  • Includes a special landscape area (SLA), Methley Lane, being one of only 18 in the whole of the Leeds area. T
  • represents urban sprawl
  • Doesn’t round off the village as there are green fields to three sides
  • is further encroachment into the open countryside
  • has no strong boundary to check future encroachment of the Greenbelt on both sides of Methley Lane
  • does not meet exceptional circumstances for Greenbelt release as outlined in the NPPF and the Core Strategy
  • this will be a car dependent site
  • destroy the setting and high scenic quality of the SLA
  • be visually harmful and will destroy its attractive character and appearance
  • have a detrimental effect on the habitat network running through the site
  • destroy this area as a well-used amenity for walking/dog walking over many years
  • spoil local views
  • not preserve the setting and view of the adjacent Oulton Conservation Area
  • there are no buses to Rothwell, the local Town Centre and other bus services are not frequent
  • too far a distance to Woodlesford train station
  • car dependent site
  • it will damage the area on environmental grounds
  • the infrastructure is not available to support a development of this size
  • It is proposed to have a through road from Fleet Lane and Methley Lane. We feel that this would become a rat run and do not want a cut through.

HG2-179 Fleet Lane/Eshald Lane

The site is unsustainable and is therefore unsound and not justified because:

  • It is Greenbelt
  • would represent urban sprawl
  • would be further encroachment into our local open countryside
  • is outside the settlement boundary, so represents settlement extension not a rounding off of the settlement
  • has no strong boundary to check future encroachment into the Greenbelt on both sides of Fleet Lane
  • does not meet exceptional circumstances for Greenbelt release as outlined in the NPPF and the Core Strategy
  • agricultural land

HG2-176 (4082) Windlesford Green, Holmsley Lane, Woodlesford015.jpg

  • This is a Brownfield site
  • This site should be developed with supported accommodation for older people, which could form a ‘care’ hub adding to existing amenities. The council has been working with the Dolphin Manor Trust over several years to provide a new care home and is also talking about options for extra care housing and new nursing home provision. This site is a good one to utilise for such plans and should serve to cater for Rothwell’s future older population for their care needs and we would like to see this run in partnership with the local trust for local people.

HG2-177 (136) Alma Villas, Woodlesford

  • Brown Field Site.
  • Not far from HS2 route.
  • Site is on a slope and has contains mature trees that should be preserved..
  • Site is an awkward shape.
  • Poor vehicle access via Alma Street.
  • Challenging site but could have potential with creativity.

HG2-178 (143) Aberford Road – site of Glenoit and Minerva Mills, Oulton

  • Flood alleviation scheme completed.
  • Currently government’s proposed HS2 route would have major impact.
  • If presently proposed HS2 route is kept, then mixed development might still be possible. Small business premises and a restaurant might still be compatible.
  • If HS2 route revised, ideal site for canal-side flats and restaurant.
  • Concentration on flats will increase site capacity.


HG2-182 and HG1- 410 Main Street, CarltonCarlton-field.jpg

These sites use for development is not justified or effective unless several issues are resolved:

  • HG2-182 is a brownfield site opposite the Unicorn Inn. Identified as potentially improving visual aspect of area if developed. Highways have commented that there is limited frontage with Main Street, so development would need to be combined with HG1-410
  • HG2- 182 includes farm and farm buildings and land between Main Street and Ashton Crescent which are a renowned cornerstone of the rhubarb triangle. Tours of the sheds have featured on national television. The site sits at the heart of the Rhubarb triangle and the local bed and breakfast business and the Unicorn Inn do trade from this. It is unclear from these proposals what a future operation would continue as. It is vital that any development that takes place in this location needs to sensitively account for the traditions, history and heritage of what was and is still a small rural village.
  • Part of this site is also used for the annual local Rhubarbfest celebrations, when the road is closed off and the Carlton community comes together with live music, rides, stalls etc. This is one of the highlights of the Carlton community calendar. Part of this land is the subject of a community bid to become a community asset.
  • G1-410 contains some grassland and a number of increasingly mature trees that were planted by the community. The community would not wish to lose these trees.
  • The site would involve a junction immediately opposite the Unicorn Public House. The Main Street is a very narrow road and the pavements are extremely narrow and do not meet modern standards. Carlton infrastructure is not able to accommodate a significant level of development being a small village.
  • There are already drainage problems in the village and in particular around the Main Street/New Road area.
  • Local school is at capacity and no room on the site for expansion.
  • This site is used as an overflow car park for the village, this is particularly important given that the main car park used for the village on Town Street has been lost to development.
  • The nearest doctor’s surgery is Lofthouse Surgery, many residents of Carlton are registered there. It is at capacity and recently had a planning application refused to extend the surgery to two levels as it already has problems with parking capacity.

There is still some time left to submit your own comments on the site allocation during the public consultation period which ends at 5pm on Monday 16 November. Details on the site allocation plan can be found on the Council’s website at: where you can also submit comments.

Email comments can be sent to

You can copy us in at and

Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton under attack from developers

Cllr Karen Bruce and Cllr David NagleOur villages and green fields are under attack from predatory developers exploiting relaxed planning laws, according to Country Life magazine, which says that rural communities are being ruined by house builders ‘let off the leash’ by the Tories and Liberal Democrat government through its National Planning Policy Framework introduced two years ago to boost development and tackle the housing crisis by cutting red tape.

As a result, developers want to build large estates on the outskirts of our villages, leaving our schools and GP surgeries overcrowded. When we try to defend ourselves from poorly conceived housing sprawl we’re considered Nimbys.

We’re fighting a war to protect our green fields, we all need to stand together. We’ll win battles and lose battles, but we’ve got to win the war to protect Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton.

I welcome the fact that we now have three Neighbourhood Planning Forums in Rothwell, Oulton and Woodlesford, and Carlton all of which David Nagle and me are actively involved with. If development does happen in the next 15 years, it should be where local people decide it should be, not where a government inspector decides it should be. Neighbourhood planning should insist on infrastructure being in place to cope with any development. All those involved with our Neighbourhood planning forums are doing a wonderful job, if you’d like to get involved in your area forum please contact me and I’ll pass on your details to your local forum.



Making sports safer in Oulton and Woodlesford

A popular sports and social club in Oulton can now purchase a defibrillator thanks to a helping hand from local Councillors.

Brian Bache contacted me recently as the club wants to make sure it is doing everything possible to protect and keep safe those who play sport there so I arranged the application for a small grant from the Outer South Community Committee.

We have now contributed £500 to the Oulton & Woodlesford Sports & Social Club for them to purchase a defibrillator.

The club is at the centre of the community with a great number of residents being members and taking part in the various local sports teams based there. The Club is keen to improve health and safety measures to allow for increased numbers of members and visitors to make use of their excellent facilities.

I’m  delighted that funding has been approved and would encourage everyone to join the campaign to get more defibrillators installed in public places, led by local schoolgirl Cody Hartley. Cody has worked tirelessly to raise thousands of pounds to install defibrillators at schools and public places.

It is essential to act quickly when  someone is in cardiac arrest and fighting for their life is crucially important.  There are around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK every year. 

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by 10%.

A defibrillator is a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart when someone is having a cardiac arrest. These machines can also be called AEDs (automated external defibrillators).

Having a defibrillator on hand is incredibly important as it could ensure lives are saved in those crucial minutes waiting for paramedics to arrive. It’s fantastic to be able to contribute to the on-going improvements at the Oulton & Woodlesford Sports & Social Club which will ensure that visitors and members can continue take part in the great range of sports on offer in a safe and friendly environment.

Celebrate 65th anniversary of the NHS

NHSToday is the 65th anniversary of the NHS – the National Health Service.

Worldwide the NHS is the byword for outstanding state healthcare. It is an achievement that the Labour Party can be justly proud of. Especially as it was created in a time of austerity and shows just want a committed, enthusiastic and imaginative Labour government can achieve in tough times.

And what is Alec Shelbrooke, our Elmet and Rothwell MP, doing in this week to celebrate the NHS? He’s not. Instead he’s spending his time contacting local people about his role in Tory party in-fighting about Europe, while his government systematically dismantles and privatises the NHS.

Before the last general election the Tories promised us that the NHS would be safe in their hands. There would be no frontline cuts. Tell that to the 4,000 nurses who’ve been laid-off. Tell that to the patients suffering because of the crisis in accident and emergency departments.

As the NHS came into being Nye Bevan said: “There will be an NHS as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.” If you’ve got the faith to fight then please come and join us to show your support for the NHS.

Our street stall will be outside Morrisons on Commerical Street in Rothwell between 2pm to 4pm tomorrow (Saturday, July 6). Please come along and show Shelbrooke, Cameron and Clegg that in Elmet and Rothwell we’ve got the faith to fight for the NHS.

Elmet and Rothwell campaign dates

We’ve got two campaign sessions in Rothwell this week:

NHS 65th birthdayWednesday, July 3 – We’re meeting outside St Mary’s Catholic Church hall on Park Lane in Rothwell at 6:00pm to do some Labour doorstep campaigning.

Saturday, July 6 – As part of Labour’s big NHS 65 Campaign weekend there are street stalls and campaigns in every key seat in West Yorkshire. In Elmet and Rothwell we’re running a street stall outside Morrisons on Commercial Street in the centre of Rothwell. There is free parking on both sides of Commercial Street or you can get the 444 bus. You can also get the 9 ring road bus which stops on Marsh Street a one minute walk away. You can also get to Rothwell using the 153 Morley-Castleford bus.

Karen Bruce and Andy Burnham MPAndy Burnham, our shadow secretary of state for health is doing a great job holding the Tories to account on what they are doing to the NHS, but he needs our support to do it so it would be great to see you there.

You can either just turn up or get in touch to let me know you’re coming.