Following the successful initial YGA campaign to raise funds to employ a barrister, YGA is launching a second campaign to boost funds to support the delayed Site Allocation Plan hearings that will reconvene in March 2018 or later. WE thought you’d like an update on where we stand………
A quick recap of what has happened so far?
- Leeds adopted the Core Strategy for 70,000 dwellings in 2014, carried out the consultations in 2015-2016 and ignored literally thousands of formally raised objections from members of the public and the region’s community groups who were all opposed to the proposals to use the region’s Green Belt to achieve their overly ambitious house building targets.
- Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance was formed in 2016 with the sole intention of forming an effective legal challenge to protect the entire region’s Green Belt; and set out fund raising to deliver this goal with the use of specialist legal representation at the forthcoming Government Inspector’s review of the Leeds Site Allocations Plan.
- In early 2017 Leeds announced a selective review of the Core Strategy (CS) to include a new housing target and plan period, as Leeds’ own data was showing need-evidence for 55,000 dwellings; while simultaneously still pressing on with the original 70,000 target.
- Using funds from donations raised, YGA sent a formal legal letter querying how the hearing could go ahead, to be tested against a target that was out-of-date; sent to the Government Inspectors and Government Housing Minister.
- In summer 2017, as expected, the Government published a new standardised methodology for housing target figures, which suggested a Leeds housing target of just 42,000.
- In autumn 2017, Leeds then postponed the main aspects of the Government Inspector’s review which deal with allocating housing and removing land from Green Belt. Only the aspects dealing with methodology, infrastructure, employment and retail sites and anything other than housing and Green Belt was held during the week starting 23/10/2017.
- All community group leaders and members of the public who had pre-registered to make their points to the Inspectors were quickly shut down before they could finish their pre-planned points for review. Only the barristers representing the big-name house builders were allowed to speak freely; and did so at length, with the Inspectors.
So, what is going to happen next?
- Leeds City Council will carry out the selective review of housing target, plan period and other issues. There will then need to be a review of the new plan to take account any changes. This will involve (yet another) community consultation where submissions from the public will most probably be ignored again.
- The six-week pre-hearing period will give the public, the community groups and YGA a further chance to respond to changes, potentially communicating directly with the hearing Inspectors (expected Jan/Feb 2018).
- Leeds will submit a final revised plan for the government appointed Inspectors, whose consideration and public hearing is now expected in March 2018 or possible later in May 2018.
What are the new major risks for the region’s Green Belt?
- The largest Green Belt sites (such as Garforth, Horsforth and Parlington) are now most at risk; as the Council and major house building companies want to prioritise the sites which can deliver in excess of 1,000 houses, for maximised profit.
- The new lower housing target from 70,000 is still to be confirmed. If Leeds do lower it to below 55,000 it could negate the use of any Green Belt, but given their track record of being lead by the big developing companies, this is highly unlikely without intervention forcing them to deliver brownfield sites first.
- Lead Planning Councillor Richard Lewis has announced a new intention of creating “broad locations for development”. If these are areas of Leeds Green Belt which are not officially allocated in the revised plan, they may still be subject to call-up later, if house build rate is not achieved.
- House builders continue to influence the housing market, the lead Councillors and Leeds City Council by choosing not to develop large areas of brownfield land which are laying dormant with approved planning permission, to control house supply, selecting the most profitable build locations and the most profitable housing types.
Why is funding YGA’s specialist barrister more vital then ever before?
- The only way to make any legal arguments against the house builder’s profit focussed plans, and the misguided targets of Leeds City Council heard during the next Inspector’s review (March 2018 or after) is to continue to use the specialist barrister.
- When Leeds City Council publish their revised plans, they need to be meticulously reviewed to ensure that any attempts to utilise the Green Belt to deliver house building targets are vehemently contested and the council’s house building targets are really reduced in line with the Government guidelines, negating the need to include any Green Belt.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- Please make a contribution to the increased legal costs which have resulted from Leeds City Council’s decision to delay the hearings and revise their plans at the last minute. PLEASE DONATE HERE TODAY: www.yag.org.uk
- Please volunteer your time for social media, leafleting, fund raising or other types of assistance: firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Hughes, Chairman, YGA