In considering sites such as the fields for allocation, Leeds City Council undertook what they call a “sustainability appraisal”. This involved scoring the fields in various categories.
Unfortunately, they made some mistakes, resulting in the site being rated in an overly positive way, while also demonstrating a lack of familiarity with the area around the fields.
When we questioned this, we were told that our comments were received outside a statutory consultation period and hence could not be acted upon. With this in mind, we present our concerns with the site scoring below (including two that we didn’t initially spot). If you wish to check the scores, (taken from an appendix to council meeting minutes1), you can see them here: Scoring for site 2062.
Note that there are some categories of scoring we simply can’t check, as the methodology for them is not public. They may have been provided by Highways, for example – as is the case for SA16: Local Needs Met Locally. The potential for further errors therein is unknown.
The specific inaccuracies we have noted with the scoring for site 2062 are in the following scoring areas:
SA04 – Health
+ All site within accessibility zone for primary health facilities (20 min walk) O Partly within accessibility zone. - Outside accessibility zone
This is scored 0 – partly within accessibility zone. Our score is -1 – outside accessibility zone. As far as we are aware, the closest primary care facilities are Shadwell Medical Centre and Street Lane Practice, Roundhay. Google says these are around an hour’s walk away – three times the time called for in the scoring criteria.
SA06 – Culture, leisure and recreation
Based on the location in terms of centres and therefore the proximity to cultural and leisure facilities.Consider the size of the site and impact on existing facilities.
++ Near/in the city centre + Near/in a town centre O Site not near or in a centre but reasonably accessible - Not near or in a centre -- Loss of existing leisure facility
Site 2062 is scored as “+1 Near/in a town centre”. Our score would be “-2 Loss of existing leisure facility”. We have two questions:
- Which town centre does the scorer consider Red Hall Playing Fields to be near?
- How could building on the site not constitute loss of a leisure facility?
The column named “SustApprComment”
In this column the text “While not near to a centre it is within walking distance of Roundhay Park” appears. There are two problems with this statement:
- It directly contradicts the score for SA06 which claims the fields are near a town centre
- Roundhay Park is in no way walkable from the fields. It is around two miles away – not as the crow flies, but for a walker – over a busy ring road that has no crossing points at all on the segment that would need to be crossed. It is hikeable, but it is not walkable, for example, for my father, or for me with my four year-old daughter.
SA09 – Community cohesion
Consider the relationship of the site to the existing area, eg scale of site in relation to the scale of the existing settlement
O Site size considered to be in scale with settlement scale - Site is out of scale with settlement cohesion existing settlement scale or loss of existing community facility (eg sports club, allotments) -- Site size is considered to be significantly out of scale with settlement scale
This is scored as 0. Our score would be “-1”, losing as we would precious open space that is in practical daily use as commons and has to our knowledge been in public use since 1937. How can the scorer justify claiming there would be no loss of existing community facility?
SA10 – Greenspace
++ Access to 8-9 typologies + Access to 6-7 typologies O Access to 4-5 typologies - Access to 2-3 typologies -- Access to 0-1 typologies -- Existing greenspace use on site
This is scored -1 – Access to 2-3 typologies. Our score is -2: Existing greenspace use on site. How can a scorer assert that there is no existing greenspace use when for thousands of residents this is the only amenity to which they can walk?
SA20 – Local distinctiveness
Consider scale of site in relation to existing settlement and whether it would it change the distinctiveness of the settlement.
+ Existing unattractive brownfield site O Brownfield site, but not unattractive; greenfield site in scale with settlement; greenfield site where development could still maintain distinctiveness - Large Greenfield site, out of character with settlement
This is scored as 0. Our score would be -1. This is a picture of the settlement it abuts:
This is a picture of the fields:
How can a scorer assert that this is not a large greenfield site?