Please read below the following updates from WAAG. A brief summary of the approval notice and also our proposal regarding the environmental impact on the area, from our brilliant WAAG steering committee ecologist.
As always we welcome your feedback and we are collating your responses for future reference. If we don’t respond, don’t worry you have been heard!
The approval notice for 17/08262/OT contains 13 pages of conditions, mostly intended to guard against poor development standards and practices. Some are for our benefit such as working hours eg “work on site only takes place between 07.15hrs – 18.00hrs Monday to Friday, from 07.30hrs – 13.00hrs on Saturdays with no working on Sundays or Bank Holidays”. This applies now to any investigation work as well as when construction starts. So our community can be the eyes and ears to tell the Council if there are working hours breaches or any others. The full decision notice is listed here: https://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=P0YHSBJBITW00
In summary the conditions cover: timetables, groundworks and site preparation and investigation, phasing, housing mix, space and accessibility standards, quantum of green space, CO2 emissions, water and energy consumption, design code, access details, drainage, EV charging points, cycle parking, archaeological recording, dust and mud control, construction plant traffic parking and routes, engaging with ward members and nominated representatives, ecological reports, scheme for areas to remain open (including Haigh Wood), tree protection.
This is WAAG’s brief about Haigh Wood and green aspects of the planning application:
There are a number of avenues we could explore to get the most out of this situation to improve the environmental impacts of the development. We would hope we can be involved in discussions about reserved matters and opportunity to influence the final designs through recommendations that are genuinely environmentally sound, but also what the community want to see.
Probably the most devastating impact on our greenspace will be the impact on the woods we all love. WADC sought to convince the community that the woodland would be improved by their proposals for management, including additional access and furniture (a green gym for example). If we are involved in further discussion, we can provide guidance and evidence on improving the woodland for habitat rather than sanitised amenity space by, for example:
- increasing the area by planting more trees, for example, providing greater buffer zones of undeveloped land to protect what little greenspace will be left,
- siting the proposed access features and furniture which would be welcomed by many… into the development area where it has lower impact on the habitat but actually greater potential for use by residents,
- installing additional features that are better suited for the character of the space; meadow areas from locally sourced seed rather than imported species that won’t thrive here; ponds and semi-aquatic habitat to reflect the natural existence of pools and springs in the area
- hedges and buffers that are better connected than in the original proposals and provide the wildlife corridors they suggested in original plans but were lacking in evidence
- fencing off sections where dying trees can be left to decay naturally for biodiversity rather than being removed for safety because of increased access (they will be inviting more people into the woods – so will need to manage trees for safety in their current proposals
The development itself
The proposed development in its current form is uninspiring. We can provide advice to the developers on improving the designs to incorporate more green features, and importantly, evidence as to how this can be done, examples of where it has been done before… and also how by incorporating more green features, the development could be more sustainable, more desirable, and more in-keeping with the ambitions of the existing and new community by, for example:
- Planting street trees. The government’s housing white paper is set to require trees on streets in all new developments – through the ‘tree lined streets’ bill. We can help the developer get ahead of the game and show its green credentials by advising them on how to do this through the expertise we already have within the steering committee
- Retaining existing trees where possible to minimise the number of trees removed during this climate emergency
- Propose additional planting and green features through the development to enable wildlife to reach all of our wildlife friendly gardens and bird feeders – through the new housing
- Planting a tree, or a fruit tree for every house to help meet Leeds’ own targets for canopy cover and tree planting in mitigating climate change
- Install other habitat features, bird boxes, bat boxes to rehome the wildlife affected
- Design wild spaces into the proposals where they don’t detract from properties, but enhance the natural space – clumps of trees, shrubs, flowers and borders
- Utilise flood water management to create balancing ponds with naturalised features to enhance the wetland features in the area and encourage insects, birds and amphibians
We have the expertise, examples and evidence to back all this up, within the WAAG steering group and in the broader community. We don’t want the development because it will harm our greenspace, but we have an opportunity – if the council and developers will listen – to get the best deal for nature and the community that we can. We should be welcomed as a valued contributing stakeholder in developing designs.