With the 2015 election coming up on May 7th, where do our East Leeds candidates stand on issues such as those affecting our public green space? We emailed all our candidates to ask. We’ll post their answers here.
Jump to responses
The full email:
Subject: Where do you stand on development and public green space?
I’m writing to you (as I’m writing to all my candidates for Leeds East MP) to ask about your stance on local public green space. We run a local group that’s trying to save the fields that we live near. Leeds City Council wants to see thousands of houses built around here, and also want to build on the one green space that could serve those houses – both with a dual carriageway and yet more houses.
This is our local community’s only walkable green space. Not only that, but since our community is on the edge of town, it’s one of our only community amenities.
Conservative planning changes have meant that dozens of amenities such as these all over Leeds are under threat from target-led development and little community vision.
Were we to vote for you, could we rest easy knowing we had your support on local issues such as these?
Russell Garner Friends of Red Hall Playing Fields
Ryan Stephenson, Con Apr 20th
Thanks for your email.
I think it’s best if I’m upfront and say that I am opposed to Leeds City Council’s current core strategy for 70,000 new homes in Leeds.
We do need more affordable homes, 2 to 3 bedroom homes particularly and not the 4/5 bed luxury homes developers are currently building across our green spaces.
The reasons I oppose the Labour-run Council’s current strategy – opposed by Conservative Cllrs in Leeds too – is that it gives big money developers permission to build across 38% of greenfield and Greenbelt land in the City.
Personally, I’d like to see new affordable developments on brownfield land first, of which there is a huge amount in the city. Secondly, simply peppering our communities with small developments does nothing to support the existing settlements where services are already saturated.
I would favour a revised core strategy that takes a proactive approach, looks at brownfield sites and decides to develop stand alone new towns/villages with new schools, Health centres and services built in.
Regrettably, this Labour Council doesn’t have the same view as I do as regards protecting green spaces and existing settlements.
Hope that’s useful.
Richard Burgon, Lab Apr 22nd
Many thanks for taking the time to write to me in your Friends of Red Hall Playing Fields capacity.
I am of course aware of the proposals from the NE Quadrant consortium, led by Persimmon Homes, for the building of 2000 homes across from Red Hall at the Wetherby Road to Swarcliffe, at York Road. I know that the planning application was submitted some considerable time ago and that Leeds CC are now close to determining the outline application. This follows extensive consultation with local residents, largely led by local Councillors Peter Gruen and Pauleen Grahame.
In my view such a large development will not be possible without the necessary infrastructure; particularly a proper road to cater for all the newly generated traffic and ancillary traffic management measures to ensure that local residents can safely and adequately move about the locality. Keeping rat running at bay will be an important factor for local people. In this context the proposed dual carriageway (ELOR) has been seen as the key initial step to be taken before there is widespread housing development. Normally the private sector would be expected to be the prime developer of this, however I agree with the Council that such has been the local reaction that they wish to ensure this road is built very early on in the process- and to make this happen, they have decided to lead on this project themselves. I hope this gives proper reassurance to local residents.
Of course there are many other infrastructure requirements; such as affordable housing and the right mix of houses, including homes for the elderly through some sheltered provision; locally available school places, green space, public health facilities and public transport.
I know your group is in frequent touch with Peter and Pauleen about these issues, and, if elected, I will join in with these discussions.
If I am elected on 7 May then of course my support can be relied upon in relation to important local planning issues and defending our local environment .
With best wishes
Richard Burgon Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for East Leeds
Kate Bisson, Green Apr 27th
Thank you for contacting me about this important issue, and sorry for the delay in replying to you. I met another member of your group last week on a walk with the Friends of Wyke Beck Valley, and we spoke at length about the plans for the East Leeds Orbital Road and the new housing in the North-East Quadrant that threatens the Red Hall playing fields. From this conversation and having read the information on your website, it seems clear to me that this situation has been handled poorly by your local councillors and by Leeds City Council as a whole.
As you quite rightly point out, the playing fields are the only local green space available to your community, and are clearly valued and well used. For that reason alone, they should be protected by your elected representatives and not sold off to a developer. Leeds City Council is suffering the effects of the Coalition’s harsh austerity measures which have slashed local authority budgets, but councillors should nonetheless be expected to stand up and fight for the communities they have been elected to represent, not simply sell off local amenities and use the cuts as an excuse.
The Green group on Leeds City Council objected to the unrealistic and unnecessary target of 70,000 new homes for Leeds within the Local Plan, and Greens argue strongly for bringing empty properties back into use and building on brownfield sites before any green space is used. Nationally, the Green Party would like to see the Conservatives’ National Planning Policy Framework abolished, as it is clearly little more than a developer’s charter which undermines the rights of communities to have a say in what happens to their local areas.
My own professional background is in the transport sector, so I am well aware that new road-building schemes do not alleviate congestion but simply create more. Leeds urgently needs a different approach to transport planning which prioritises walking, cycling and public transport over private vehicle use. I am very concerned to hear that MetroCards have been withdrawn from the housing development plans as a cost-cutting measure – this is an extremely short-sighted move that will only serve to reinforce car dependence amongst residents if the scheme goes ahead.
Whether or not I am elected on May 7, I would like to work with you on the campaign to protect Red Hall playing fields, and bring my professional knowledge as well as my political support to bear to assist you. Please keep me in touch regarding developments and future meetings.