Spofforth Hill plans given green light by planners

Spofforth Hill
Spofforth Hill

A proposal that would see up to 325 houses built on farmland at Spofforth Hill has been approved by councillors.

The final word has been delegated to the chief planning officer for approval - a decision yet to be made - however the city plans panel yesterday voted in favour of this devolved responsibility.

The plans for the 36-acre site, submitted by Bellway Homes in July 2013, have attracted a lot of local opposition.

Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke and Wetherby Coun John Procter (Con) have added their voices to those objecting to the plans.

However, at the last city plans panel in September 2014, councillors voted in favour of the development in principle, on the understanding that Bellway would provide further details on several outstanding matters.

These included the delivery of the £8.5m commuted sum in place of 20 per cent more affordable housing on the site, the proposed right hand turn lane giving access to the site, and the pepper-potting of the 49 affordable houses around the site.

These matters were the subject of this week’s discussion, and the decision was made to follow the officers’ recommendation.

Coun Procter said: “My job is to try and get the best for the local area out of the scheme that is before us, that is why I am making these comments now.

“This site will be a site of two halves where on one side there are five bedroom luxury mansions and another half of smaller houses which will be cheaper but still unbelievable to what most people can afford. That is what we are going to approve.

“It will be a car-dominated site. If you have a Bentley in the garage you don’t tend to go to work on the bus. That is a truism and the notion that this is a sustainable site is ridiculous.”

It was agreed at the meeting that Bellway would begin developing the site this time next year, building around 50 houses a year.

The commuted sum will be delivered in fifths as each set of 50 houses are built.

Coun Procter added: “There seems to be a rush to grab the money, the £8m, as if this is a grand wonder to the city.

“That is our entitlement and Bellway are making it more desirable to themselves and giving themselves even more profit and it is not on.”

Though there were representatives from Bellway Homes they did not speak at the meeting other than to confirm their building plan.

Cross Gates and Whinmoor Coun Peter Gruen (Lab), however, spoke out in support of the application.

He said: “Today is about the points that have come back, but I have to respond to Coun Procter.

“This has not been a new development as Coun Procter tells us, it has been around for some considerable time and discussed for some considerable time. There is nothing new or surprising in any of this.

“We need new houses and we are going to get new houses right across the city - a programme Coun Procter supports and I don’t understand what he has said but we consider the planning application on its merits.

“It clearly meets the interim policy and the conditions brought back today are in line with what this panel asked for at the last meeting, therefore I think the officers’ recommendation is right and deserves our support.

“Sometimes you just have to be brave and courageous.”