Yesterday Leeds City Plans Panel gave the go-ahead for 2,000 homes on Leeds ‘Northern Quadrant’ site. I spoke as an objector to the plans.
This development, as outlined, creates immediate social fault lines. The thin strips of green space situated at the new road’s northern and eastern edges are not primarily there for residents. It insults the intelligence that it continues to be called a “Country Park”.
One good thing came from the meeting: 12% affordable housing on-site was increased to 15%. It is for the developers to decide whether that is acceptable to them.
This is the full text of the objection:
While much has been done to this ambitious planning application to achieve some of the aims of the adopted Leeds Core Strategy, many aspects remain unsatisfactory both from that document’s perspective and that of the National Planning Policy Framework.
Section 1.8 of the Core Strategy speaks of “[giving] priority to sustainable development, seeking to remove social inequality; maintaining, protecting and enhancing environmental quality for the people of Leeds.”
Siting the questionably-named “Country Park” on the hard shoulder of the northern side of four lanes of asphalt, divided from residents via a footbridge is directly at odds with both our own Core Strategy and paragraph 69 of the NPPF. It is emblematic of the road’s creation of sharp social inequality – creating countryside “haves” and suburban “have-nots”.
We’ve heard it expressed by a councillor living outside ELOR that it says “Leeds stops here”. That statement is itself socially divisive.
The road design prejudices the future of existing public green space to the west of it, placing as it does part of a roundabout within that site’s borders. This selective compartmentalisation can be described as neither an “integrated approach” nor “guarding against the loss of valued facilities”, both of which NPPF paragraph 70 calls for.
Paragraph 73 talks of access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation, assessed against “deficits or surpluses of open space”.
We note three small new green spaces within ELOR. Can residents be reassured with hard figures that with the arrival of some 6-8000 new residents that a ward chronically deficient in five out of six categories of green space will not be pushed further into deficit?
Paragraph 35 talks of priority being given to sustainable transport modes. In this application, Coal Road – often used as a quieter cycling route – will be closed, cycle improvements are to be made one year after the road is built, and metrocards have already been withdrawn.
Core Strategy 4.9.5 talks of “minimising the growth in travel by car”. NPPF Paragraph 30 “support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion.” The new dual carriageway will increase both. It will make life worse for people travelling to and from Leeds on the A64 and A58, and will create congestion on the outer ring road where dual joins single carriageway.
The road on which this application wholly depends not only has few benefits for existing and future residents, but may never be built. The Council has told residents no building will take place without a road to support it. However, the Chief Planning Officer’s report reveals that the application’s conditions depend only on the completed design of the road. This leaves both the Council and the developers at risk until such time as the road’s benefits case and public inquiry are approved. A letter of comfort from the council is of scant legal value should applicants lose out.
Leeds makes much of its reputation as one of Europe’s greenest cities. In this application, the level of car dependence and the cutting off of residents from the countryside with a concrete yoke is to that reputation’s great detriment.