Leeds Site Allocations Plan (SAP) – green belt update

Site Allocations Plan
Local Development Framework for Leeds in identifying specific allocations for housing, employment, retail and greenspace.

Leeds City Council’s development plan panel will be asked to consider proposals to protect 33 housing sites in green belt areas of the city next week as part of amendments to the Site Allocations Plan.

At the meeting at Civic Hall on Tuesday 21 November, councillors will be asked to recommend carrying out public consultation on a revised approach to sites in the green belt as part of the Site Allocations Plan (SAP) process which provides locations identified for future housing to meet the long-term housing needs of the city.

The proposed revision to the Site Allocations Plan follows a technical review of green belt housing allocations carried out following a new proposed government methodology for calculating future housing figures announced in September.

In light of potentially lower overall housing targets for Leeds, the council has taken stock of its approach to green belt release for housing development with the revised proposal seeing green belt land identified as being the locations for 6,450 future homes now being retained as green belt.

These areas will remain in the Site Allocations Plan, but will not be released for development until the council has a revised housing requirement following its own Core Strategy Selective Review and can determine, at that time, whether release of further green belt land is necessary.

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:

“Recent government announcements on housing has resulted in the council taking prudent and responsible steps to review this information and the implications for Leeds. Getting our long-term housing policy and direction planned in a clear and right way is essential for the future of our city and our communities. We have successfully struck a balance between allowing our city to grow and develop in a coordinated and fair way, meet the need for new homes across Leeds and ensure there is no unnecessary loss of green belt land.

“Based on this approach the council has taken stock of longer term allocations for housing in the green belt, with a view to protecting 33 housing sites, rather than releasing them from the green belt prematurely. This equates to nearly 55 per cent of the green belt sites currently allocated in the plan.”

Leeds City Council chair of the development plan panel Councillor Peter Gruen said:

“The Site Allocations Plan is currently at independent examination and the proposals to retain these sites in the green belt in the plan is a positive step on behalf of the council to respond to the government proposals, whilst progressing the SAP to adoption so as to give the long term planning certainty that this city needs. Development plan panel is due to consider these proposals on 21st November, which will be subject to public consultation following consideration by executive board and full council. The material will then be put before the Site Allocations Plan inspectors in the new year for consideration as part of further hearing sessions. This is a pragmatic and responsible approach to the plan in light of the changed circumstances which has the support of the planning inspectorate.

“Related to the Site Allocations Plan, the council continues to progress the Core Strategy Selective Review, to revise future housing targets for Leeds (for a new plan period of 2017-2033), which will also be subject to further public consultation in the new year.”

A full list of sites to be retained as green belt are contained within Item 8 Appendix 1 of the development plan panel paper here. These are to be designated as Broad Locations, in line with the approach which is set out in government guidance (the National Planning Policy Framework). Broad Locations will be considered through a future review of the Site Allocations Plan following adoption of the Core Strategy Selective review which is likely to find a lower housing requirement is needed in Leeds. At that stage Broad Locations may be deleted.

This approach enables, in line with national guidance, government inspectors to consider and adopt the SAP. An adopted Site Allocations Plan is critical to ensure that the council has control over its five-year housing land supply and can avoid speculative development. In line with the draft timetable and included in the development plan panel report, stage two hearing sessions of the SAP examination are now due to take place in July 2018.