The housing target of 70,000 homes by 2028 from Leeds City Council (LCC) has again been challenged on the back of new statistics.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has predicted Leeds housing will grow by 44,500 between 2012 and 2028, and the Conservative Group have jumped on this figure and called for an immediate review of LCC’s much larger proposal of 70,000 dwellings.
Group leader Coun Andrew Carter said: “My group has issued repeated warnings, for well over two years that the 70,000 new homes for the city is far too high and needs to be revised downwards as a matter of urgency.
“These latest ONS figures show that our view is fully justified and that a review of the 70,000 figure should start now. There must be no ifs and no buts, this is clear evidence the administration is planning to build far too many homes and put at risk areas of greenbelt and green field land which simply is not warranted.”
In light of the ONS figures, LCC issued a statement which said the two predictions are based on ‘significantly different criteria so a direct comparison would be inaccurate’, and that the ONS figures do not take into account ‘a wide range of factors’.
LCC executive member planning Coun Peter Gruen (Lab) said: “We have immediately responded to this new information, carefully considering the best course for the city. Coun Carter is reacting to what we have done. In publishing our considered response immediately we are being totally open and honest.
“Since we received these figures we knew they would be likely to generate considerable interest in relation to our own Core Strategy housing projections.
“That is why it is important people consider them in their full context – the 44,500 figure is based on a very different criteria. It is very much a minimum base to start from, and with the continuing growth of the Leeds economy the real housing need figure up to 2028 will be considerably higher.
“We have always said we will follow the evidence and act if action needs to be taken, so we are now looking fully at these latest figures and evaluating the implications of what they mean.
“Following our thorough evaluation of the ONS figures we are fully prepared to consider all options available to us if any alterations are considered appropriate and necessary.”
The Conservatives have previously said the housing figures for Leeds region, which would see 4,943 new houses built in and around Wetherby in the outer north east of the city, are based on out of date population figures .
Speaking as chair of the Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Board, Wetherby Coun John Procter (Con) said: “My Board has been keeping the emerging information, that feeds into the housing target for Leeds, under review.
“We are currently looking at all the information via a series of working groups. I have said, in public and within LCC, that the target needs to be nearer 50,000 and I will be keeping pressure on the ruling Labour administration to review their housing target.”