Greenbelt building plans “are death by a thousand cuts”

Stuart Andrew MP
Stuart Andrew MP
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ONE of the largest house building schemes in the country has been criticised for placing Yorkshire’s greenbelt at risk of “death by a thousand cuts.”

Plans by Leeds City Council to build some 70,000 new homes over the next 16 years are based on inaccurate population figures, MPs have warned.

Tthe housing minister heard complaint after complaint over plans by the council to develop the green edge of the city, a situation the local authority says is needed to keep Leeds growing.

Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew said the “onslaught” of new housing planned by Leeds, including a “staggering” target of 70 000 houses, was based on a now defunct regional strategy using population figures from 2008.

The Conservative MP said that by some measurements the expected growth was 43 per cent less than predicted but the home building plans were still going ahead.

“Shockingly,” he added “the majority of the Pudsey developments are on greenbelt land.”

He said: “There are masses of brownfield sites that could be regenerated, with the chance to create a new garden city in effect, but pleas to go down this route have fallen on deaf ears.

“This is not being a Nimby, it is about sustainable development.”

He was backed by Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke, who said Leeds’ Labour run council had set out “to destroy the constituency” and shown scant disregard for opposition views.

Mr Shelbrooke added: “We have seen political menacing at the expense of people’s lives and we now face death by a thousand cuts, maybe a few hundred houses in each village, but something that adds up while the infrastructure is not then there to support it.”

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said there may be options to revise the population targets, adding that: “Leeds City Council has a duty to do what is right in the area and protect that greenbelt.”

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, Planning and Personnel said: “The debate in the House of Commons was more about an election that is 92 days away, rather than addressing seriously the housing crisis in Leeds.

“The population figures have been found to be sound by a government appointed inspector. Anyone who read yesterday’s Yorkshire Post will be aware that the risk of setting low housing estimates that is that they subsequently found to be unsound by the government inspector- leading to a free for all for developers.

“The current site allocation proposals designate 3.7% of the existing greenbelt in the Pudsey constituency wards for housing. These proposed sites have followed a long period of discussion with ward members and there will be further consultation later in the year.

”Rather than trying to sow division, I urge Stuart Andrew and Alec Shelbrooke to engage constructively with this process.”