Battle on to stop homes on Spofforth Hill

Editorial image.
Editorial image.

The application to build 325 homes on a 36-acre site at Spofforth Hill has been met with outrage.

A public meeting of more than 300 people discussed the proposal on Monday after leaflets called on local residents to challenge the development submitted to Leeds City Council in July 2013.

Coun John Procter (Cons) attended the meeting and updated the group on the application’s progress before answering questions.

He said: “I was not a part of that decision to remove Spofforth Hill from the green belt and put it up for development. I voted against it but it became policy along with many other sites in this ward.

“I have always been against those sites coming out of the green belt but that was approved 20 years ago and so it has a status.

“Bellway have been told that now is not the right time to bring these sites forward.

“That said, anyone is entitled to put in an application for any patch of land, and the council is bound by law to consider any application in its merits, and that is what is happening now.”

The application is due to go before a plans panel in May.

A Bellway spokesperson said: “We have a planning application pending determination, which includes a number of technical assessments of the site including sustainability, traffic and tree felling and planting.

“While our original proposals included a new roundabout, the application has now been amended to exclude this. We anticipate a decision from Leeds Plans Panel on our proposals in the near future.”

The leaflets calling the meeting were distributed by the Say No to Spofforth Hill campaign group.

Group member Jim Walton said: “Housing should not be developed on the best land and the Spofforth Hill site is the best land.

“And the planning inspector said the site was not suitable for development, but it seems to me that when he went home it was pencilled in to be developed.”

Beverly Parish, who has lived in Wetherby for 14 years, said: “The application does not meet the traffic impact assessment or the environmental impact assessment or the sustainable development assessment. It would be funny if it didn’t affect so many people.

“Regardless, the inspectors have said they are regarding the site favourably.”

Coun Procter agreed that Spofforth Hill should not form part of the council’s five-year plan to meet housing demand.

He said: “In my view, Spofforth Hill does not fit with the plan, but that is not how planners see it. I have got to hope that the panel see that this application has come up at the wrong time.

“We can’t stop the building of houses because there is a national policy in place supported by all political parties that is about a housing growth agenda.

“Every council has to come up with a structured plan, and Leeds City Council said we should have 70,000 houses. I don’t agree with it, but that is the number and there is nothing I can do about that.

“It comes down to sufficient grounds to refuse the application. The officers have looked at our objections, and to be fair they know what they are talking about.”