Decade long debate over Thorp Arch development delayed by appeal

TAG committee members John Richardson, the chairman of Thorp Arch Parish Council, Bernard Crooks and Peter Locke.
TAG committee members John Richardson, the chairman of Thorp Arch Parish Council, Bernard Crooks and Peter Locke.
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A key debate on a controversial plan for more than 800 homes near Wetherby has been called off at the 11th hour as Leeds City Council seeks more time to prepare to defend an appeal by the developer.

- which has already been at the centre of more than a decade of discussions - Rockspring Hanover Property Unit Trust (RHPUT) wants to create ‘Rudgate Village’ on the site of a former Second World War munitions factory at the Thorp Arch trading estate.

The developer, which first placed an application for the site in 2005, has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to step in because it says Leeds City Council has not made a decision quick enough.

Officers were due to present their reasons for this at the City Plans Panel on Thursday but their report has now been re-scheduled for the April 6 meeting.

A Leeds City Council spokesman confirmed that a decision has been taken not to present a report discussing the developer’s appeal to this month’s City Plans Panel.
They said: “The council, the appellant and the planning inspectorate have agreed that more time should be allowed for the council to prepare its case in the interests of making the best use of appeal inquiry’s time.

“This also gives the council the opportunity to assess further technical information submitted by the appellant.

“It is now intended to take a report to a future City Plans Panel for councillors to consider the reasons on which the council will fight the appeal.”

Concerns have been raised that the site – for which 874 homes, a 66-bed care home, primary school and shops are planned – could be a danger because of potential contamination problems.

Campaigner Peter Locke, chairman of Thorp Arch Trading Estate Action Group (TAG), said: “We’ve got some real unknowns with a [former] munitions site and Rockspring don’t want to take that seriously.”

Residents are also worried that traffic congestion would increase and that infrastructure would be put under strain. Coun John Richardson, the chairman of Thorp Arch Parish Council, said: “It’s a non-viable, non-sustainable site in an area which has huge infrastructure issues.”

RHPUT declined to comment.