Developer takes Leeds council to court over planning

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.
Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

Leeds City Council (LCC) is preparing to defend part of its planning policy before it appears in a court case brought by developers Miller Homes.

The volume house-builder, which has had housing plans at Collingham and Boston Spa rejected by LCC this year, is questioning the council’s interim PAS policy.

This strategy was adopted to release protected area of search (PAS) sites for development - greenfield areas of the city protected by LCC, including Spofforth Hill - after the council found a shortfall in its five-year housing supply.

A Miller Homes spokesman said: “There is a major housing shortfall in Leeds and we believe our targeted land acquisition strategy will help address the issue.

“It is our view that LCC does not have a sufficient five-year supply of deliverable sites within the city, as required under national planning policy, and that PAS sites should be released to address shortfall.

“The council’s interim PAS policy contains criteria for the selective release of PAS sites. We believe the prevailing legal framework requires policies such as this to be subject to a formal process of preparation, consultation and public examination and we brought an application for judicial review as LCC failed to follow this process.”

After their application to build 104 houses on land between Grove Road and Green Lane in Boston Spa was rejected by LCC, Miller Homes took the council to High Court, seeking to quash the interim PAS policy. The case was rejected in January 2014, however the developer has a case scheduled at the Court of Appeal for March 2015.

PAS sites are released if they meet certain criteria, including proximity to major settlements and site size, and councillors said it is this that bothers Miller Homes.

LCC executive member for neighbourhoods, planning, and personnel Coun Peter Gruen (Lab) said: “There are some house builders who are particularly aggressive. That is my personal opinion.

“We are demonstrating that we are very selective and listen carefully to what the case is and we can only operate if people want to be reasonable and not irresponsible.

“I think we have a very strong case with Grove Road and the appeal and we will continue to make that case.”

Wetherby Coun John Procter (Con) added: “The view of Miller Homes is that the council came up with an interim policy they didn’t like because the sites they have got interest in didn’t actually fit in with that policy, so the things they invested time in were flying away and they were not very pleased with that.”