Millions of pounds could be lost to Wetherby if the planning application for Spofforth Hill goes ahead, according to a town councillor.
The outline proposal for up to 325 houses at Spofforth Hill is being brought forward for discussion by the Leeds City Council (LCC) plans panel on September 18, despite widespread belief that there is still a great deal of work to be done before any decision can be reached.
Outraged at this decision, Wetherby Coun John Procter (Con) told the Wetherby News he has not been made aware of any of the recent amendments to the application, including the decision to take £8.5million away from the town and put it into other sites nearer to Leeds.
He said: “Ward members have not been consulted or appraised of the latest amendments to the plan. I understand there has been a pedestrian crossing put in which I was not aware of. There are also some section 106 agreements that will see millions of pounds transported out of Wetherby and into the inner city of Leeds, which ward members know nothing about.”
The section 106 agreement is a set of conditions to be met before planning permission is signed off by the planning officer and is subject to agreement between LCC and the applicants Bellway Homes.
According to a report by the council’s chief planning officer, affordable housing on the proposed site is set at 15 per cent (49 dwellings).
Instead of another 20 per cent affordable housing to make up the normal requirement, Bellway must give £8.5million to LCC.
Coun Procter, who says this money will be taken from the Wetherby site and given to other sites Bellway has interest in near Scarcroft, is now co-ordinating meetings with council officers and local campaigners to update all concerned.
He said: “The last briefing I had on this application was in July, and the case officer has since left the authority and taken up a post with a planning agency which promotes large-scale housing development.
“I have also requested information that details every meeting Bellway or their representatives have had with officers or councillors in the city regarding the Spofforth Hill site.
“I am puzzled as to why this application is being pushed through unduly.”
An LCC spokesman responded to Coun Procter’s concerns and said the council has to make balanced decisions on the levels of affordable housing that represent the needs of communities, the demands of housing providers, and the best deal for the city.
He said: “The ratio of houses for this development is typical of developments in this kind of location and meets those balanced needs.
“LCC recognises there is an opportunity for development work at Spofforth Hill to progress promptly so new homes can be built.
“We understand that not everyone will be happy in this happening, so we want to work with communities to deliver this housing growth as effectively as possible and this is why our planning officers will be meeting again with ward members in advance of the application being considered.”
A Bellway Homes spokesman said the company could not comment on the section 106 agreement within the planning application.