Two hundred Scholes residents filled St Philip’s Church to express concern about developers’ plans to build up to 745 new homes over the next decade, which if approved would almost double the size of the village.
Several speakers, including Elmet MP Alec Shelbrooke, declared their opposition to schemes which villagers fear would destroy the rural character and identity of historic Scholes.
Leeds based developers GMI Holdings, working with Barratt David Wilson Homes, insist both sites for which they have submitted outline planning bids are not in the Green Belt and have for years been earmarked for potential development.
They have pledged to build a health centre, extend the village primary school or build a new school if their bid is approved.
Village campaigners, whose residents’ group Save Our Scholes organised the public meeting on March 20, have resolved to fight the plans for as long as it takes.
Barwick and Scholes parish councillors, many of whom attended the meeting, are drawing up a Neighbourhood Development Plan to fight unwelcome development and have called on SOS to work in partnership with them.
Objections on planning grounds to the developers’ plans were articulated by Scholes resident and planning expert George Hall.
He said the proposed schemes were far too big for a small rural community with narrow, congested roads and an old, inadequate sewerage system which could barely cope with existing demand, let alone the increased requirement 745 new homes would create.
Small communities such as Barwick and Scholes were expected to contribute eight per cent towards the Leeds district’s housing requirement for the next 15 years; this would equate to no more than 80 new homes.
He added that Leeds has more than 200 ‘brownfield sites’ with room for 22,000 new homes; these should be built first, he said.
Mr Hall told the Wetherby News: “It now rests with the community to make their voice heard.
“If ‘localism’ is of any value the Government and Leeds City Council should listen.”
Amanda Munro of SOS added: “SOS have launched a new website to keep residents informed and support the campaign against the doubling in size of our village.” Object at: www.saveourscholes.co.uk/