The number of new homes likely to be built in and around the village of Scholes during the next decade may prove far fewer than the 3,500 originally suggested.
This view was expressed by Coun John Procter (Con Harewood) when he joined Elmet’s MP Alec Shelbrooke at a meeting with residents last Saturday.
It was organised by Scholes resident and planning expert George Hall, who is leading a huge voluntary effort to put together the Scholes section of a Neighbourhood Development plan shared with neighbouring Barwick-in-Elmet.
Coun Procter revealed that of the 70,000 new homes required in the Leeds district to meet the needs of a growing population, 5,000 of them would be in Wetherby and villages in the surrounding area.
Of these, 1,150 properties already had planning consent, leaving fewer than 4,000 to be found.
He said these could either be spread across Wetherby and the villages or the majority of new homes could be concentrated in one location.
Coun Procter revealed that 600 acres of land owned by Leeds University and close to Headley Hall, near Tadcaster, had now been included in the list of potential development sites.
“It could take 5,000 houses but about 3,000 would be more likely,” he said.
Asked if this new potential building land removed the threat of 3,500 new homes being built in Scholes and the surrounding area, Coun Procter insisted that this figure “was not a threat but an aspiration” by developers.
Coun Procter added: “We [elected members] have been accused by Leeds City Council officers of frightening our communities.
“We would rather people know than it all be done in secret.”
He urged: “Trust us; we are going to find a way forward. Officers [of the City Council] do not want a war with local members and they do not want a war with communities. They have said this time and time again.”
MP Alec Shelbrooke, who responded to questions about national and regional planning, said the new Localism Bill had given communities a stronger voice through Neighbourhood Development Plans.
He insisted that greenbelt land would be protected.