Senior councillors in Leeds are set to approve a recommendation at a meeting next week that the Site Allocations Plan for the city guiding future development is ready to be formally adopted.
The meeting of the council’s executive board at the Civic Hall on Wednesday 26 June will be asked to endorse the plan, which guides the locations of future housing, green space and development in the city, being formally adopted after a discussion and vote on it at July’s full council meeting.
Following an extensive period of preparation, public consultation and examination, independent government-appointed inspectors Claire Sherratt Dip URP MRTPI and Louise Gibbons BA (Hons) MRTPI) have now issued their final report on the plan.
Their report concludes that the Site Allocations Plan is legally compliant, sound and provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the city, subject to a number of main modifications being made.
The inspectors’ report acknowledges the separate Core Strategy Selective Review process which is currently reviewing the overall housing target for the city, but states that is “beyond the purpose of the Site Allocations Plan and the remit of this examination”. However, in taking account of the council’s expected lower housing requirement for the district, the inspectors have recommended that 32 green belt releases should not be allocated for housing.
Within this context, the inspectors conclude that the methodology for the selection of allocated sites is sound, with site requirements justified, effective and clearly expressed. It is emphasised also, that these requirements (as part of the council’s overall Core Strategy policies) contribute to the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.
In relation to infrastructure, the inspectors confirm that the council has taken a sound approach, ensuring development can be carried out in a planned and supported way.
Leeds City Council executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development Councillor Lisa Mulherin said:
“The government-appointed inspectors’ final report is very welcome at the end of a lengthy process and means we can now get this plan adopted and officially recognised in all future planning decisions, shaping the places where people will live, work and spend time. It will bring certainty for residents and investors, meeting the needs of the city and protecting the majority of green spaces by offering defence against speculative development.
“The Site Allocations Plan identifies land for homes and jobs across the city, and also will ensure infrastructure is delivered in the right way. It has an important role to play too in our commitment to tackling climate change, with sites being developed to a high standard in more sustainable locations and mitigating flood risk.”
Leeds City Council chair of the development plan panel Councillor Neil Walshaw said:
“The preparation of the Site Allocations Plan has been a major undertaking for the council, which we are grateful is acknowledged in the inspectors’ final report. The preparation of the plan and its examination has created considerable public interest and the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders.
“After such a long process, it is very positive that the inspectors have provided very clear and concise conclusions. This endorsement means Leeds can move forward with a strong planning future to deliver the priorities and commitments as set down in the Site Allocations Plan.”
The inspectors’ final report is based on their considerations following 16 days of public examination hearings on the plan which were held in summer 2018 with the views of more than 470 participants heard, as well as more than 50,000 written comments.
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 Core Strategy adopted in 2014 set out the current Site Allocations Plan requirement of a net 66,000 new homes for allocations in Leeds from 2012-2028.
In acknowledging this requirement is going to reduce as a result of the Core Strategy Selective Review, the inspectors have recommended that the council only needs to provide for housing needs up to 2023. This will require the council to review the Site Allocations Plan by no later than 2023 to address housing needs after this date, and this will take place after the Core Strategy Selective Review is adopted and the new housing requirement is known.
The Core Strategy Selective Review is considering a lower overall housing target for allocations based on the latest evidence. It is expected to recommend revising the net housing target for allocations down to 46,352 new homes in Leeds between 2017 and 2033.
The review is currently the subject of a round of consultation on modifications proposed by the government inspector Claire Sherratt DIP URP MRT, which ends on Friday 28 June. For more information and to take part visit www.leeds.gov.uk/cssr
To see the executive board report, go to www.democracy.leeds.gov.uk