White Paper questions housing numbers

Illustrated plans for Rudgate Village
Illustrated plans for Rudgate Village

A Wetherby and senior Tory councillor has claimed that the leadership of Labour-run Leeds City Council ignored warnings from the opposition about an “inflated” 70,000 homes target.

Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group, Coun John Procter, submitted a white paper ahead of the authority’s full meeting at Civic Hall last week.

His paper reads: “This Council welcomes the initial findings from the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) suggesting that the ruling Labour administration has indeed set a Core Strategy housing target far in excess of what the city actually required.

“Council is concerned about the damage already done to communities in Leeds as a result of their 70,000 target and recalls the many warnings from opposition parties that the council leadership ignored over the past five years regarding this inflated figure.”

He added that “70,000 houses was neither desirable nor deliverable” and called on the council to come up with a housing target “that is based on reality as opposed to a political view” founded under Tony Blair’s years as Prime Minister.

Since Coun Procter’s speech the Government has issued its own view on housing numbers for Leeds suggesting 2,649 per annum should be the target which taken over a 16-year period (the length of the Council’s Core Strategy plan) would set a target of 42,384, nearly half what has been proposed by Leeds City Council.

As major housing developments continue to cause concern across the Wetherby area, Coun Procter added that he is determined to oppose inappropriate housing in the ward and across Outer North East Leeds.

“I raised this issue in full Council last week as a means to highlight the damage the 70,000 target is doing,” said Coun Procter.

“We have never supported this figure and for over five years we have been campaigning to get it reduced.

“The selective review of the core strategy at least creates some hope that the figure will be revised downwards and now that the Government has issued a figure for Leeds that is not far off half of the existing target there is perhaps room for further optimism.

“However, we have been working long and hard on this issue and the battle is not over, we must continue the fight to get the housing target reduced as it could mean less unwanted housing in Wetherby and right across outer north east Leeds.

“The issue has been badly handled by the Council and I am determined to keep up the pressure on this most important of issues.”

Opposition is being voiced at a three-week planning appeal which started last week into the proposed 874-house Rudgate Village at Thorpe Arch.

Also opposition is mounting against 120 properties at Kings Meadow in Wetherby and 800 homes Swinnow Park, off Racecourse Approach.

Nobody from Leeds City Council’s Labour group was available for comment.