The proposed locations of future new housing across Leeds will be discussed at public hearings beginning next week.
Starting at 1 pm on Monday 9 July at Leeds Civic Hall, the public examination of the revised Site Allocations Plan for the city will be considered by two independent government inspectors.
The Site Allocations Plan sets out locations identified for possible future housing, as set down by the Core Strategy implemented in 2014 which recommended up to 66,000 new homes in Leeds between 2012 and 2028 to accommodate the future need.
All other elements of the Site Allocations Plan including proposed areas of employment land, green space, shopping centres and for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople were heard by the inspectors at the end of last year.
Leeds City Council asked for the housing element to be put on hold so it could carry out further public consultation following a technical review of green belt housing allocations after a new proposed government methodology for calculating future housing figures was announced in September.
In light of potentially lower overall housing targets for Leeds, the public consultation concerned a council recommendation to revise the Site Allocations Plan by offering enhanced protection from housing development for 33 sites in green belt areas of the city. These sites had been identified as being the locations for 6,450 future homes, but under the council’s revised recommendation would now be retained as green belt.
The 33 green belt sites would formally remain in the Site Allocations Plan, but will not be released for development until the council determines it is necessary.
Throughout the course of its preparation, the Site Allocations Plan has received more than 50,000 public comments, all of which have been passed on along with the revised plan to the government inspectors as part of their considerations.
The Civic Hall hearings are expected to last for approximately three weeks, ending in early August.
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“We are very pleased that these hearings can now resume, examining the housing element of the Site Allocations Plan. We are grateful to the inspectors for allowing us to put the process on hold while we carried out a consultation on the revised plan which supported our recommendation to offer enhanced protection to these green belt sites, which together make up more than half of the green belt locations currently identified in the plan.
“The issue of future housing need and where we put it is hugely important for our city and all our communities, so we look forward to the hearings taking place.”
Leeds City Council chair of the development plan panel Councillor Peter Gruen said:
“These hearings are an important step in the process of Leeds having a set future housing allocations plan in place and in terms of transparency they are ideal as they are open to all to attend and give everyone the chance to tell the inspectors what they think.
“All the comments received throughout the various consultation stages have also been given to the inspectors so they will thoroughly examine every aspect of this plan, which we think is sound and is essential in protecting our communities and our green belt against speculative development while supporting the future needs of our thriving city.”
A fully approved and 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. The current Site Allocations Plan sets out a requirement for 66,000 new homes in Leeds by 2028, as agreed in the Core Strategy adopted in 2014.
A selective review of the Core Strategy continues to progress separately to the Site Allocations Plan process, with a recommendation being proposed for a revised future housing figure of 51,952 new homes between 2017 and 2033. The two elements legally cannot be considered together, so this recommendation is to be discussed at the meeting of Leeds City Council this month and if approved will then be submitted to the government for consideration.