New homes near Leeds motorway put on hold after pollution fears

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A housing development near the M621 motorway in Leeds has been put on hold after claims that it would put local families at higher risk from air pollution.

A Leeds City Council plans panel deferred its decision on applicant Persimmon’s proposals for 46 houses at New Village Way, Churwell, after receiving more than 200 letters of objection.

Locals in nearby May Avenue - which lies just a short distance from the motorway boundary - had raised a number of concerns, including pressure on local school, road access and claims that the application breached standards on room sizes and noise levels.

And former environmental officer and Morley town councillor Jim Aveyard told the plans panel that the field on which the homes would be built currently acts as a pollution and noise buffer for locals and building on it would put families at risk from ‘particulates’

Mr Aveyard said: “[The site] is green open space now, but most of it will disappear. It is an amenity that the people of Churwell need.

“The noise from the motorway has been mentioned. But what hasn’t been mentioned is the atmospheric pollution and the deposition of particulate matter. This is quite a problem in itself. This development is downwind of the motorway.

“The particulate matter emitted from vehicles, particularly diesel vehicles, is small, it’s light and it travels.

“And from personal experience I can tell you that it deposits on all other surfaces.

“And the really bad news is that the small stuff ends up so deep in your lungs you can’t cough it out.”

Lib Dem councillor Jonathan Bentley questioned why there had been no public health consultation ahead of the application.

Councillor Robert Finnigan added the application also breached World Health Organisation targets on noise pollution.

“It will have a significant impact on new residents,” he said.

Senior officers, who recommended approval of the scheme, admitted that there were “challenges due to proximity to the M621 motorway”, and that “no-one is pretending this is a perfect scheme”.

But they said it was “acceptable on balance”.

An officers’ report to the plans panel pointed out the scheme did offer “generous areas of landscaping and greenspace and is adequately spaced away from the existing properties on May Avenue, to ensure the proposal would not have a significant impact on the occupiers of these existing properties”.

However after a lively debate lasting almost 90 minutes, the plans panel voted unanimously to defer it decision for further talks.