A proposal to protect land from housing developers is being discussed this week at Leeds City Council (LCC).
The development plan panel will consider plans that could see an area of rural land near Wetherby brought into the green belt.
If approved, councillors say this measure, to reclassify rural land as green belt, will ensure a more coordinated future planning strategy.
However, Wetherby Coun John Procter (Con) said, though he has been fighting for this proposal, there is no ‘material change’ and it will mean little for ‘anyone on the ground’.
He said: “If I am being flippant, this won’t mean a lot for Wetherby. Rural land and green belt land are afforded very similar if not the same protections in any event.
“This is a tidying up exercise as much as anything else because the rural land to the east of Wetherby is the only element in the whole of the LCC area, so it makes sense to bring that into the green belt.
“Developers face the same obstacles and issues as when it was rural land. As far as anyone on the ground is concerned there is no material change. It just makes it more straightforward.”
LCC members have said the move would significantly increase the overall area of the Leeds green belt, benefitting the city in terms of safeguarding the environment and community identities.
LCC executive member for neighbourhoods, planning, and personnel Coun Peter Gruen (Lab) said: “I am making this proposal as part of the site allocations plan for future developments in the city, which will go to public consultation next year.
“By having a clearly set green belt, we can give local people confidence about where we feel development will and will not be suitable.
“Designating this area as green belt would result in a net increase in the area of Leeds for the benefit of communities now and in the future.
“It would increase its status for the land and safeguard it against inappropriate and intrusive future development.”
Consultation on the LCC site allocations plan (Issues & Options) took place in summer 2013.
The work of the development plan panel over the next few months will be to consider proposed allocations for employment, green space, retail, and housing.
This will take place prior to consideration by the council’s executive board and public consultation once the plan has been drafted.
LCC development plan panel chair Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab) said: “This is a really good opportunity to investigate putting this land formally into the green belt.
“If agreed, this will form part of a package of site allocation proposals for further public consultation next year.”