800 new homes plans

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Ongoing plans to build a “new community” of up to 800 new homes outside Wetherby are set to go back before council planning chiefs at a meeting today.

An application for outline planning permission to build up to 800 homes, a primary school and a “food store” off Racecourse Approach in Wetherby are set to go before the authority’s city plans panel, after earlier plans were put on hold back in March.

The plans have attracted objections from locals, with claims that such a large development would put undue strain on local infrastructure.

An earlier form of the application went before plans panel on March 28, but panel members raised a number of concerns around issues including school provision, public transport and the concern that it could lead to an “isolated” community.

The site has since been included in the council’s Site Allocations Plan (SAP) which was adopted earlier this summer. This means the authority now recognises the site as suitable for new housing.

A report by Leeds City Council officers into the latest form of the plans states: “Further to the panel meeting, the applicant has sought to address the various issued raised by the panel, while matters relating to the SAP have significantly advanced which provides clarity to the acceptability of the site being allocated for residential development.”

It adds the updated plans include an offer from the applicant to fund a shuttle bus for 10 years to help with accessibility to the site, as well as identifying potential locations on the site for a two-form entry primary school.

Following concerns over a lack of consultation with the public, the applicant carried out a consultation event on June 7 at Wetherby Town Hall. The council report states the main concerns from the public included issues around scale, traffic congestion, parking, air quality, education and loss of ecology and agricultural land.

It adds that a total of 82 objection letters were received by the council since the March meeting, related to numerous issues including the scale of the development and claims the site is unsuitable for housing.

The report recommends the panel defers and delegates the plans to the chief planning officer with a number of financial conditions on developers Taylor Wimpey.

These include a provision of 35 per cent affordable housing on the site, £2.7m towards building a primary school on site and in excess of £500,000 in travel and public transport infrastructure contributions. Conditions such as these are known as s106 agreements.

It concludes: “The proposed development is considered to be sustainable development and will deliver much needed housing over the plan period, including a significant level of affordable housing.

“With the detailed planning conditions imposed, the details that will come through the Reserved Matters and the s106 obligations that will be secured, ensures that this will be a sustainable form of development and compliant with the development plan and the guidance set out within the National Planning Policy Framework, consequently the application is recommended for approval, subject to the completion of the s106 agreement and planning conditions as set out above.”

The meeting takes place on Thursday, August 29.

Wetherby Ward Councillors will be in attendance at the meeting, with Coun Alan Lamb scheduled to speak on behalf of some of those opposed to the application.

The Ward Members have organised a coach for local people wishing to attend the meeting being held at Civic Hall in Leeds.

The coach will leave the Cluster of Nuts car park at 12.15pm on August 29, returning from the Civic Hall at 4pm. There is no charge for the coach, but places are strictly first come, first served.

To reserve a place, phone Coun Lamb’s office on 0113 3788557.

Coun Alan Lamb (Conservative, Wetherby ward) said: “To be clear, I am not against housing developments as such.

“I have said on many occasions that new housing must be sustainable and in keeping with the surrounding area as well as addressing housing need, which in Wetherby is principally more affordable homes for young families and more housing for older people.

“This application will create a whole new community on the doorstep of Wetherby. We recognise that there is a way to go before this development becomes reality but it is also clear that there is a significant level of opposition from residents in Wetherby – we have already had more than our fair share of new houses.”

Councillor Norma Harrington (Conservative, Wetherby ward) said: “This development will have major implications for Wetherby. Eight hundred dwellings is a settlement in itself and this is to be supplemented with a food store and primary school.

“But what about other essential services – like GP’s surgeries and dentists? Residents of Wetherby already complain that getting appointments are nigh on impossible.”