Row over 70,000 houses proposed for Leeds area

Aerial view of the Sandbeck Industrial Estate and A1 in Wetherby. (02090216a)
Aerial view of the Sandbeck Industrial Estate and A1 in Wetherby. (02090216a)

A heated row between Conservative and Labour councillors has developed over the 70,000 houses proposed to be built across Leeds by 2028.

According to the core strategy adopted by Leeds City Council (LCC) this month, 70,000 houses need to be built across the region in the next 14 years.

Leader of the Leeds Conservative group Coun Andrew Carter. Picture: Nigel Roddis.

Leader of the Leeds Conservative group Coun Andrew Carter. Picture: Nigel Roddis.

This strategy is partly based on population growth forecasts taken from 2008 and Conservative councillors have fiercely objected to the council’s refusal to consider more recent statistics.

Projections from 2008 set population growth in Leeds at 144,500, however this number has been reduced twice and, in the most recent figures from 2012, is now set at 81,800 - a reduction of 43 per cent.

At a meeting of the full council this month Leader of the Conservative group Coun Andrew Carter said: “The target picked by the Labour administration is a ludicrously high figure and we believe jeopardises greenfield and greenbelt sites unnecessarily.

“I cannot understand why Coun Gruen and his colleagues are prepared to back the housing figure based on population data now shown to massively over-state the likely growth in the population.

Leeds City Council Executive member for neighbourhoods, planning, and personnel Coun Peter Gruen. Picture: James Hardisty

Leeds City Council Executive member for neighbourhoods, planning, and personnel Coun Peter Gruen. Picture: James Hardisty

“Labour’s plan will fail to protect the unique identities and historic boundaries of our existing towns and villages, and lead to unwarranted and unnecessary development, while failing to promote sufficient brownfield sites.

“Let’s be clear, this is a Labour administration target, it is excessive, we want nothing to do with it, and we will continue to demand its review.”

A scrutiny group chaired by Wetherby Coun John Procter (Con) will be working on these issues from next month.

He said: “We should do it before the sites are allocated, otherwise you do that and then you don’t need it, but it is too late. It’s common sense.”

LCC executive member for neighbourhoods, planning, and personnel Coun Peter Gruen (Lab) responded: “Everybody has their own opinion. The opinion that matters here is that of the inspector who said he was entirely satisfied that we had taken all the right factors into account.

“What the Conservatives want is to rip it apart before the ink is even dry - one of the most central factors, just take it own and pretend it isn’t there and start again.

“I am saying we will always review, so when the next set of statistics comes out in a few months and if there is a trend emerging then we will of course look at that.

“What this is really about is that Mr Shelbrooke wants to save his seat, therefore the Conservatives will refuse a plan they have been telling us we need for two years.

“This is one issue of party politics and that is very sad. We shouldn’t sacrifice doing what is right because we have an election six months away.”