November 2017 – An Update on the YGA Campaign

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raised, YGA sent a formal legal letter querying how the hearing could go ahead, to be tested against a target that was out-of-date; sent to the Government Inspectors and Government Housing Minister.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.


  • 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:
  • Please volunteer your time for social media, leafleting, fund raising or other types of assistance:


Martin Hughes, Chairman, YGA

Tong and Fulneck Valley, Bradford – “The Countryside Next Door”

As YGA moves forward, attention is turning to the next local plan for consideration, which is that of Bradford, as their site allocations proceed.

Bradford appears to be travelling in the same direction with its forward planning as Leeds was, and to be making the same fundamental mistakes that YGA hopes the Leeds SAP Inspectors will take into account during the October 2017 hearing.

A special part of Bradford is that area formed by the Tong and Fulneck Valley.

  • LOCATION: The Tong/Fulneck valley is a fine example of greenbelt protected land that provides ‘countryside next door’ to 2.2 million people of urbanised communities in West Yorkshire, and lies at the centre of this urban conurbation. In addition to statutory ‘Duty to Co-operate’ tasks, Bradford’s responsibility is increased due to it being an area that cuts deep into Leeds territory. We believe this has been done minimally and tokenistically.
  • SCALE:   The area is scheduled to be the largest site for green belt release in Bradford MDC – 2,700 new houses of the 11,000 projected would be built on a large swathe of land deep in the Tong Valley and across Westgate Hill.   25% of Tong green belt would be lost – and more could follow.
  • SIGNIFICANCE: In addition to the green space significance and potential of the land, the unique ancient heritage settlements of Tong and Fulneck are a vital extra feature.
  • FLAWED POLITICAL PROCESS: In the so-called Tong & Holme Wood Neighbourhood Development Plan, local people was over-ridden by professionals and politicians. All the local representatives signed a ‘Minority Report’ that opposed the large scale green belt release proposed in the NDP.
  • FALSE PROMISES – Bradford Council’s assurance that they would use ‘New Homes Bonus’ money from the ‘Holme Wood Urban Extension’ is tokenistic and probably unrealistic. The housing growth would further damage the quality of life of Holme Wood residents.
  • POLITICAL SUPPORT – our three Ward Councillors and our MP are all Labour – and have supported their Party’s Local Plan housing proposals, including the Urban Extension. They however oppose the building of a new highway through the Valley – see below.
  • PROPORTIONATE HOUSING: TFVA is urging that any greenbelt release in the Tong Valley must be proportionate, and on land that is less sensitive and environmentally significant. We are not opposed to the building of up to 900 homes as infill or on degraded land.

 Key Points – BRADFORD – Britain’s ‘youngest city’ 

  • RE-IMAGINED CITY CENTRE: Bradford has opportunity for housing on post-industrial city centre brownfield sites and vacated commercial premises.       It could pioneer a re-imagining of Bradford & provide models for others to emulate, rather than invade precious countryside.
  • AIR QUALITY: Bradford’s traffic congestion problems are immense, and widely recognised, resulting in growing levels of air pollution, with related health problems. The need to ensure that new housing does not lead to increased C02 emission should be a top priority.
  • GREEN BELT REVIEW: It is disappointing that Bradford’s Green Belt Review is being included in the Local Plan Allocations Proposals       The ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ case for Green Belt release has inappropriately focused almost entirely upon housing need.
  • NEW LINK ROAD: A proposed new highway would cross the Tong Valley to link the A650 at Westgate Hill with A647 Leeds Road at Thornbury. Further greenbelt release would result, with industrial development adjacent to it. The road would suck higher levels of traffic into the area, and further damage air quality. We are struggling to get adequate information.
  • REVISED TARGETS: There is justification for Bradford to revise its new homes requirement from 42,000 to 35,000 – in line with Leeds, – reducing green belt release required to only 4,000 homes, and perhaps eliminate this if a ‘re-imagining’ of the City Centre is adopted.
  • PUBLIC TRANSPORT: the new housing would result in much greater car dependency. The area is not served by the rail network, and bus travel is expensive and inefficient.


What more can be done to strengthen and secure Government greenbelt protection policy?

Are there any hopeful national initiatives being taken that it might be helpful for us to know about?

How might we improve our campaign to prevent large scale loss of green belt protected land for housing and industrial development in the Tong Valley?

What key factors might force Bradford Council to have to revise its plans to invade the green belt?

How might we gain more accurate and up to date information about the new Highway that has been projected?


Author: Canon Gordon Dey, Save Tong Valley

Leeds SAP Inspectors Urgent Questions to Leeds re Core Strategy Selective Review

Following YGA’s supplementary representation to the hearing Inspectors (14th August 2017), the Inspectors have issued a series of urgent questions to Leeds on 28th August about the Core Strategy Selective Review and its likely effects on the Site Allocations Plan.

YGA drew the Inspector’s attention to the anomaly arising from the testing of the Leeds SAP for soundness against a Core Strategy that was likely to change. In the representation, YGA warned of the unsoundness of removal of land from the Green Belt unnecessarily, where a reduced housing target might apply.

It appears the Inspectors have taken note of the warning as you can see from the questions asked, which can be seen at Further Questions to the Council.

Martin Hughes, Chairman, YGA

Was YOUR Leeds village or town TARGETTED?

Who knows the definition of Town and Country Planning? 

No?  Well…

“Its goal is to ensure sustainable economic development and a better environment…

…particular concerns are pollution, urban sprawl, and ribbon development.”


Look at the list of villages and towns below. Around 2011 – 2013, did you hear from the Council, asking if you’d like to have some input about planning and shaping where you live, as part of their future plans for building near you – the Site Allocation Plan?  No?  Perhaps you haven’t  even heard of a ‘Site Allocation Plan’.   Don’t worry if you haven’t,  many hundreds of thousands of others certainly haven’t either.  Awareness was rasied, not by the Council, but by local campaigners alerting people to what the Council had ‘planned’ for them.

A few years ago, many of the most special semi-rural fringe communities were deliberately targetted by Leeds City Council or speculative PLC developers and builders, eager to build where they will attain the biggest profits and achieve the most financial benefit.  Does that fit with the definition of ‘Town and Country Planning’… or does cherry-picking for profitability sound more like it..?

Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance (YGA) was set up in September last year, in order to unite residents and campaign groups from EVERY ONE OF WEST YORKSHIRE’S 10 LOCAL AUTHORITIES. These groups who were panicked into pulling together to try and have a voice, having been ignored and dictated to about how many houses they would be getting and where.  Almost all these towns and villages affected have at least one campaign group.  Any such groups and individuals are welcome to unite with YGA, if they’re not already members; there’s no cost, all we  ask is that members do a little fundraising.

YGA have set their first task to start with Leeds City Council’s Site Allocations Plan. The task is the ‘legal defence’ of the whole of Leeds’ Green Belt and Community Greenspaces which, we believe and are professionally advised, is not legally compliant – the plan is ‘unsound’.

YGA has engaged a successful, specialist planning barrister who will be defending the greenspace and Green Belt taken from every village and town across Leeds that’s included in the plan. But we a running out of money for this vital expert legal advice.  It is essential that our Barrister can be engaged further to speak on behalf of EVERYONE who values the Green Belt and greenspaces of our city.  Parks, playing fields, allotments, woodlands are also included in the plan for building on!

Let’s be perfectly clear about a couple of critical facts influencing what’s happened in Leeds, becuase YGA supports appropriate and fair development – of course we need new houses, it is vital.  However, we need the RIGHT kind of houses in the RIGHT places.  But, it is a fact that Leeds has enough alternative land – ‘brownfield’ sites – to deliver more than the city’s projected housing needs for the next couple of decades, without having to consider using protected Green Belt, allotments, playing fields, woodlands and so on.  In addition, there’s a flawed planning law (called the NPPF) that was written by developers which allows them to build on Green Belt if they can prove that there are  no alternatives… but there are.  The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has published concrete evidence to prove it. YGA has the full support of the CPRE in our endeavour to engage a barrister to save Leeds Green Belt and community greenspaces – they believe that the plan is unsound too.

61,000 individual site objections were ignored by the Council – unbelievable, but true.  If a Public Consultation which results in 61,000 objections is not taken into account it begs the question, what’s the point?   It begs the question, “Who do the Council represent, if not their citizens?”.   YGA promise that WE WILL do just that – we will represent the 61,000 ignored, and we will not give up, oh no we won’t.

YOUR VOICES MADE NO DIFFERENCE TO THE COUNCIL.  We need to ‘get legal’. Can you help us with this battle?


The villages and towns listed below had no say in shaping the Council’s plan.  Is yours one of them?   Whether it is the coins from a money jar you’ve saved for a ‘rainy day’, the £1 you save for your shopping trolley – or the £5 you were going to spend on that Costa and a cake, every penny can help. Equally, we are seeking more substantial donations too – perhaps your group has a fund for local issues that could be accessed.  And we are also hoping to find a ‘Golden Donor’ – someone who might be willing to commit to regular and on-going financial support, or a one-off large gift.

We don’t need to remind you that Leeds is defined by it’s semi-rural character and wonderful Green Belt landscapes which prevent the merger of settlements.  If you value and wish to keep that character, and prevent the truly huge increase in traffic and air pollution, demand for school places, displacement of wildlife, removal of greenspace where you can walk your dog, stretch your legs run or cycle around – or simply to enjoy a nice view, then we need your financial support so that we can save it on your behalf.





Allerton Bywater



Boston Spa








Halton Moor



High Royds (Menston)








Nether Yeadon







Robin Hood





Tetley Fields







Briony Sloan

Fundraising Team Member, YGA