Alec has always opposed the Labour-run Council’s housing target of 70,000 new homes across Leeds. We do need more affordable homes but, as Alec argued at the Core Strategy Inquiry, the Council’s over-inflated target was not supported by any statistical evidence and is causing unnecessary pressure on greenfield and greenbelt sites, whilst many brownfield sites remain undeveloped.
The Labour-run Council has now, finally, conceded to Conservative calls for a review of the housing target.
Below is the Conservative response to questions published in a Leeds City Council consultation ahead of the review:
Leeds Local Development Framework: Core Strategy Selective Review
- Any parts of the review you think are unnecessary and your reasons? Do you feel the following areas of the review are appropriate?
1.1 Reviewing the housing requirement and plan period:
This element of the review is absolutely critical, a point my group has made time and time again over the past 5 years. The 70,000 target is too high all the projections now support this and have done for a number of years, whether it be ONS or Edge Analytics, this is overdue and we want to see a reduced number. The initial SHMA findings are promising (at 55,000) but once again we fear that a range of options have been considered and the mid-point selected, we hope this number will not increase as work continues on the SHMA.
1.3 Updating affordable housing policy:
This is also welcome, the use of commuted sums should be considered more widely. The proposals for city centre affordable housing are good, this should be extended so that the Council can look to use commuted sums from other locations to deliver housing in regeneration priority areas.
1.4 Reviewing the requirement for greenspace in new housing developments:
This is now becoming critical. Leeds has been assessed by Ordnance Survey as having one of the lowest proportions of available public greenspace. Green spaces in Birmingham cover 15.6% of the city, the figure for Leeds is just 6.6%. Nottingham, Glasgow and Manchester all have between 13%-15% of their land as green space. The city is lagging behind and the Council need to put in place a much more co-ordinated approach to Greenspace, moving away from pocket parks and thinking outside of the box in terms of delivering more substantial amounts of greenspace and parkland for the public to use.
- Any additional parts of the adopted Core Strategy you feel should be reviewed and why? Quote policy/para/page number where relevant.
SP10 Greenbelt Policy – Despite the Council having a clear commitment to Brownfield first and having a number of regeneration priorities the SAP contains provision for 34% of new housing to be built on the greenbelt. This is too high and we argue that the Council’s approach to Greenbelt land needs to be looked at again. Taken together with the shocking ordnance survey figures on public greenspace the proposals in both the Core strategy and SAP could see Leeds facing a real dearth of greenspace and significant reductions to the Greenbelt. Surely this is unacceptable to Leeds residents?
The evidence currently being prepared for the Core Strategy Review includes:
- Strategic Housing Market Assessment – to asses housing need
- Evidence to justify introduction of National Housing Standards
- Evidence of Greenspace under-delivery
- Any comments on this evidence or additional evidence you feel should be undertaken? Please provide clear references for the evidence you are commenting on.
We are particularly interested in the evidence to be provided on Greenspace under delivery. A number of developments have extremely small greenspace provision that is often barely useable, more thought needs to go into how public greenspace is delivered.
- Any other comments
Establishing the 70,000 housing target in 2014 when the Core Strategy was adopted was a potentially huge error. We argued against it and indeed sought to amend the core strategy before it was adopted. No one would listen. This selective review is, of course, welcome but our fear is that it could come too late and damage to communities has already been done. That being said we look forward to the final figures on housing requirement and hope that they provide some respite to communities in Leeds already fighting unwanted development.