Landowners are in line for compensation settlements as Leeds City Council buys sites needed for a huge development with the potential for “national importance”.
The authority is in the process of acquiring an area needed for the East Leeds Orbital Road (ELOR) – a plan for a new 4.6-mile dual carriageway which is due to link the A6120 to the M1 at Thorpe Park as part of the East Leeds Extension (ELE) programme.
The nearly 200-acre ELE is hoped to create 5,000 new homes over the next 10 years, 13,000 jobs and training opportunities, and “a significantly expanded business and leisure destination”.
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A new council report reads that the area “represents a major strategic growth point, which is of regional if not national importance”, recognised by county’s Local Enterprise Partnership, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and government “as a major development and investment opportunity that will help drive forward the Northern Powerhouse initiative”.
But it also says that those “adversely affected” by council plans can be legally entitled to compensation.
Payments and property purchases have been signed off by the council’s Director of City Development, Martin Farrington.
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The council today said the move shows it is “making good progress prior to the need for compulsory purchase to be considered, which is always a last resort”.
However, details of how many compensation claims have been made, and for how much money, is being kept confidential because “it is considered that the release of such information would or would be likely to prejudice the council’s commercial interests in relation to other similar transactions,” the report says.
The council declined to release the information following a request from this publication.
Opposition councillor Barry Anderson (Conservative), the shadow spokesman for housing, said: “I’m disappointed that the council doesn’t feel able to publish more information on these agreements.
“This is, after all public money, and as far as possible we should always strive to be as open as practically possible with the public about how it is being spent.”
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Compulsory purchase orders (CPO) allow local authorities, health service bodies and executive agencies such as Homes England to acquire land even if the owner does not wish to sell it.
Reports in March revealed that a CPO was then being pursued at around 60 sites for the ELOR, and according to the council report a number have been submitted to government for confirmation.
Objections have been made, however, and the council is planning a public inquiry to be held later this year, according to the report.