Campaigning residents who are battling against plans to build 150 homes on a field in Collingham have warned the village is still “at risk” from large-scale development.
Unanimously refused by Leeds City Council plans panel in October 2014, the scheme from Miller Homes for Leeds Road is currently heading towards an appeal.
In order to speed up the process, and minimise the cost to the taxpayer, the Planning Inspectorate has agreed to the city council’s request to combine the Leeds Road Collingham appeal with another Miller development at Breary Lane, Bramhope.
In another twist in developments, the Secretary of State has decided that he should “recover” the appeal, which means instead of an inspector making the decision, he or she will write a report that will make a recommendation on how the appeal should be determined. This will then be passed to the communities secretary to make the decision, taking into account the inspector’s recommendation.
A spokesman for Collingham Residents Action Group said: “Whether this is ultimately in the interests of Collingham residents remains to be seen, although it is hoped that this is a positive in our campaign rather than a negative.
“A date for an appeal enquiry has not yet been determined, although this looks likely to be early 2016.
“Unfortunately, because the appeal is now conjoined with Bramhope it is understood the hearing will take place in Leeds city centre rather than Collingham itself.
“In order to ensure that proper consideration is given by the appeals inspector to all local issues of concern to Collingham, the residents action group and the parish council will be making representations on behalf of the community at the appeal hearing. In the meantime they will continue to keep the community informed of important developments as, when and, if possible, before they occur.”
There were more than 500 letters of objection lodged against the plans, which were first submitted in January 2014, highlighting local concerns with access, sustainability, and the character of existing developments.
After the scheme was refused last year, Miller Homes launched an appeal in January, claiming the city council did not have a sufficient five-year supply of deliverable sites for housing, as required under national planning policy,
However, the residents’ action group said the Secretary of State had concluded that the council had demonstrated sufficient availability following his decision to reject an appeal to build 400 houses on land in Farley in March.
The spokesman said: “In the light of this decision the council subsequently invited Millers to withdraw from a number of costly appeals and instead work with Leeds in providing housing in accordance with the Leeds Core Strategy. Thus far Millers have declined to respond to this request and it appears likely that their appeal will go ahead.”
Miller Homes was unavailable for comment.