Leeds City Council has today submitted its amended Site Allocations Plan which will guide all future housing in the city to the government for examination.
The plan sets out locations for future new housing in the city up to 2028, as well as policies related to employment land, green space, shopping centres and Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.
All the other aspects of the plan apart from housing have been examined by independent government inspectors at public hearings held in Leeds last October. The housing element is now ready to also be considered after the council requested the examination process be put on hold in order to carry out further public consultation following a technical review of green belt housing allocations as a result of a new proposed government methodology for calculating future housing figures 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 consultation resulted in over 8,000 responses being received, and these will now be passed on along with the revised plan to the government as part of its public examination, which is expected to resume in Leeds in July.
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“It was pleasing that once again we had a great response to this latest consultation, reinforcing again how important the issue of getting our future housing policy right is for the city and all our communities.
“Many of the responses received were in support of our efforts to ensure there is no unnecessary loss of green belt land, with these 33 sites together making up more than half of the green belt locations currently identified in the plan. So now we are ready to submit the revised plan and the feedback received so we can move on with the examination by the government inspectors.”
Leeds City Council chair of the development plan panel Councillor Peter Gruen said:
“This revised plan is a prudent and positive step to set out a housing strategy and resist speculative development. Having considered the responses we have come to the view that subject to some minimal changes we are ready to submit the revised plan, which is sound. The two inspectors will now consider this material, including all the responses we have received throughout the various consultation periods, and reconvene the examination in the summer. Everyone who has taken part in the process will then have an opportunity to tell the inspectors what they think.”
The 33 green belt sites will formally remain in the Site Allocations Plan, but would 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 the release of further green belt land is necessary.
The review of the Core Strategy continues to progress separately to the Site Allocations Plan process, with public consultation ending today on a proposal to amend the overall housing target for the city to 51,952 new homes between 2017 and 2033. The two elements legally cannot be considered together, so the results of this review will be submitted to the government in the summer and then subjected to its own examination process.
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.