The Conservative and Liberal Democrat government introduced its National Planning Policy Framework two years ago to boost development and tackle the housing crisis by cutting red tape. To do this it relaxed the planning laws which has given developers a real boost.
The government has made it clear to every local authority that it has to have a clear plan to show land supply for housing and that it has to be approved by the government inspector. Leeds City Council has produced its plan identifying possible sites for 66,000 homes, which is 23,000 less than the mass house builders wanted and asked for which was 90,000. Leeds’ plan has been approved by the government inspector, if the figure Leeds had produced had not been deemed enough by the government inspector then the plan would have been rejected and Leeds would have needed to produce a new plan at a major cost to the tax payer.
The 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. Some sites which were up for consideration haven’t been included as possible housing allocation.
The proposals will go out to public consultation later this year when there will be a chance for everyone to have a say on the proposals.
Whilst the majority of land identified for housing throughout Leeds is brownfield 62%, 20% is on green belt land. In the Rothwell ward area there is little brownfield land available, and although some brownfield land in our area has been identified for possible housing, where possible, there isn’t enough of it in Rothwell, Oulton, Carlton and Woodlesford to provide the expected housing numbers, therefore, some areas of the green belt within our area have been included for possible housing allocation.
Rothwell Labour councillors have strongly argued against greenbelt land in Rothwell, Oulton, Woodlesford and Carlton being included for housing allocation. I support the desire of the council to make Leeds a stronger city and to support economic and job growth in the region. I also welcome the council’s expansion of green belt in the city area and protection of green space and green infrastructure. However, Whilst ever there is brownfield land available anywhere in Leeds, then our green belt should not be built on. I strongly believe that green belt land should only be built on as a very last resort.
I would urge everyone to respond to the public consultation when it opens later this year, it is vital that everyone has their say. No final decision has been made on this and we need to show how strongly we feel as a community about protecting our green belt land.
I welcome the fact that we now have three Neighbourhood Planning Forums in Rothwell, Oulton and Woodlesford, and Carlton all of which we are actively involved with, it is imperative that our Neighbourhood Forums continue to have a real say in this site allocation process. We’re working with the forums to respond to the proposals with a joined up approach. If development does happen in the next 15 years, it should be where local people decide it should be. Neighbourhood planning has to insist on infrastructure being in place to cope with any development.
We know that developers have been let off the leash by the government with its changes to planning laws to build large estates on the outskirts of our villages, leaving our schools and GP surgeries overcrowded. When we try to defend ourselves from housing sprawl we’re considered Nimbys. We have to make sure we protect our green fields.
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. To see how the allocations in Rothwell, Woodlesford, Oulton and Carlton compare with the rest of Leeds, you can see the official council fact sheet below or on Scribd.