The independent public examination of Leeds City Council’s Site Allocations Plan (SAP) is to begin next week.
The consideration of the plan, which allocates land across the city for future housing, retail, employment and green space in a planned and co-ordinated way, is to start on Tuesday 10 October at 9:30am at Leeds Civic Hall.
However, in the light of new government proposals for housing, Leeds City Council has contacted the Site Allocations Plan inspectors to continue with the public examination, but with a revised schedule. This would see the retail, employment and green space proposals considered now, with the housing element examined in February/March 2018. This will allow the council time to undertake further technical work to consider the implications of the latest evidence and revised government approach to housing need.
Last month the government published the consultation document ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’, which included revised guidelines for calculating future housing figures. The impact of the new methodology is that some local authorities will have much higher targets than before, whilst others, including Leeds, have a lower target. Using these new figures, the basic housing requirement for Leeds up to 2028 is 42,000 new homes.
The council’s Core Strategy, approved by a government inspector in 2014, identified the need for 66,000 new homes and the Site Allocations Plan has been developed to meet that need. In the meantime, the council’s own review of its Core Strategy, which is now underway, is showing emerging evidence of a lower figure of around 55,000 new homes being needed. The Core Strategy Review will be subject to further public consultation before the end of the year, which will take into account local evidence and the new government consultation proposals.
Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said:
“It’s vital that we have the right long-term housing target for the city and that we don’t have any unnecessary loss of greenfield and green belt land.
“The government’s latest consultation proposals came out of the blue for all local authorities and we need to take the time to fully consider their implications. They are also, at this stage, part of a consultation and not necessarily the final word from government.
“The timing of the government’s announcement has meant that the public examination schedule is likely to be revised and we apologise for any inconvenience this unforeseen change may cause for participants. It is vitally important for the examination to continue, which is why we are committed to proceeding.
“Given the significance of the housing element, we are taking the appropriate and responsible step of reviewing the latest information fully in order to provide our communities and potential investors with certainty to protect our green belt from development and to be fair to all parts of the city.”
The Site Allocations Plan follows on from the Core Strategy which was adopted in Leeds in 2014 after being endorsed by a government inspector with 70,000 new homes identified as being needed up to 2028. This figure includes an allowance for new development through demolitions and ‘windfall’ sites, which means the Site Allocations Plan and Aire Valley Leeds Area Action Plan allocates land for a net total of 66,000 new homes.
To provide these homes the plans split the Leeds district into 11 geographical housing areas with the new homes to be developed in three phases. Of the 11 areas, the two highest in terms of receiving new housing would be the city centre and an ‘inner area’ of Armley, Beeston Hill, Belle Isle, Gipton and Harehills, Hyde Park and Woodhouse, Hunslet and Seacroft to help boost regeneration and economic growth in those parts of the city.
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