WAAG UPDATE ON HAIGH WOOD HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PLANS
The government White Paper is proposing major changes to the planning system and they are engaging in a public consultation process. WAAG intends to respond to their consultation however, this is asking a number of questions, which will require considerable effort and knowledge to respond effectively.
Not withstanding this, as feared, the governments build, build, build announcement, which we believe is the purpose of the new white paper, will have the Developers rubbing their hands.
The Labour run Leeds City Council, have always had the intention to have this site developed, regardless of all of the objections raised. As confirmed by their about turn at the last Plans Panel meeting.
We have written twice to the LCC Solicitor arguing that the last meeting was biased and unfair and pressing the case for a further, open, Plans Panel meeting; this has been refused. We have had it confirmed by the LCC Solicitor that they intend to issue an approval; they are only waiting for the Secretary of State to make a decision on the request for “call in”.
For now here’s where we think we stand in relation to the big planning application for 299 houses.
- It’s now over three months since our MP Andrea Jenkyns asked Secretary of State Robert Jenrick to call in the application and we’re still waiting for him to decide whether he will or not. If he does call it in, then there would be a public hearing with a fresh analysis about the merits or otherwise of the proposals. We would be up against both the developers and Leeds Council both of whom want approval. We would need to pay for expert help in preparing our case. WAAG did think it more likely that Jenrick would tell Leeds to go ahead and approve, but is now wondering what is delaying Jenrick’s decision.
- WAAG is challenging the minutes of the City Plans Panel so that there would have to be consultation with the community whilst more detailed plans are being drawn up. Otherwise we just have to await planning applications for “reserved matters” when full details will be submitted for approval. There could be one application or separate applications for the development parcels, though the Council would be looking to ensure that environmental promises already made would be adhered to.
- As for the planning system changes proposed, they are surely too late to influence the outcome for us. If anything, they could make the situation worse. Boris wants to “build, build build”. Politicians see the planning system as too slow and cumbersome and to blame for all that’s wrong. At least organisations like WAAG have been able to contribute to the SAP and City Plans Panel, even if ultimately ignored and then denied at the May CPP meeting (another story!). Enabling public contribution slows planning decisions and the new system threatens that. It feels like it is the WAAGs of this world that are the target that need to be by-passed to get building and the economy growing. WAAG tries to stay apolitical but feels squeezed between Conservatives on one hand at national level, as just described, and Labour at the local level who imposed a grossly inflated housing target a decade or so ago and are determined to approve 299 houses around Haigh Wood.