Planning chiefs have recommended councillors refuse an application to build 140 homes on greenbelt land in Leeds - marking the end of the latest round in a hard-fought battle by campaigners.
On Thursday, the North and East Leeds Plans Panel will decide the fate of an outline planning application by the Brahmam Park Estate and Sandby (Bardsey) Ltd to build 140 homes on greenbelt land in Bardsey, off Wetherby Road.
The applicants said more than £10m is needed by the estate to repair heritage buildings - an issue they argued was a “special circumstance” case for building on greenbelt land.
But in a report to the panel, planning officers today recommended the plan is refused, saying those circumstances did not justify the development.
The report says the 140 houses “would have a detrimental and irreversible impact on its openness and character” and concluded “the harm to the greenbelt is significant and is not outweighed by the special regard to the desirability of preserving the heritage assets, and is thus, [the plan is] recommended for refusal”.
The report has been welcomed by the Bardsey Action Group which was first set up in 1992 to protect the greenbelt land and has been fighting these latest proposals since they were submitted in 2016.
Tim Gittins, of the group, said: “We are pleased. We hope the members will follow the officers’ recommendation.”
He said the Bardsey Neighbourhood Plan - which was adopted into Leeds City Council’s planning policy last year after a local referendum which saw 94 per cent of the village turn out in support - places protection of greenbelt as a top priority.
“That’s how important it is”, he said, adding: “People even outside of the village recognise it as a very stragetic site in terms of the importance to the character of the area.”
A spokesman for the developer said: “We are naturally disappointed that the Committee Report recommends refusal of this application, but we hope that Members will recognise that the ‘very special circumstances’ has been demonstrated
with this application and the fine balance referred to in the Committee Report should tip towards the funding of the internationally important heritage restoration on Bramham Park Estate, through this exceptional residential
development. The heritage at Bramham includes a Grade I landscape and 27 listed buildings and structures of which 11 are Grade I Listed – 25% of Grade I Listed buildings in the Leeds District.”