Massive housing scheme could be built soon

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A HUGE scheme to build 2,000 homes, a country park and a new orbital road in the Leeds area is set to be discussed by councillors next week.

A development consortium led by Persimmon Homes wants to build on land between Wetherby Road and York Road - the so-called Northern Quadrant of the East Leeds Extension.

The report by the chief planning officer Andrew Crates describes the site on land north of Skeltons Lane, to the north east of Whinmoor as having “a rural appearance”.

As well as the opportunity to provide a new East Leeds Country Park along the outer edge of the East Leeds Orbital Road there are plans for a new primary school with the possibility of a second one being added at some time.

Whether European funding for such a road could be obtained is going to be discussed at a future meeting of the East Leeds Regeneration Board.

Regarding the council’s likely position on the issue, Mr Crates admits that the council fought a number of appeals in 2009-11 against development proposals which it subsequently lost and consequently: “the principle of residential development of the site at this time is considered to be acceptable.” He adds: “Secondary School provision is more complex though the scale of development is likely to require a new school or its equivalent to meet the population growth needs of the East Leeds Extension and adjacent areas. There will also be need for a new retail centre, playing fields and open space.

But not everyone is happy with the plans. Coun Rachel Procter (Con, Harewood) complained that the current infrastructure could not support such a massive development and improvements to it should be carried out first before any houses are built.

She said Persimmon “are bulldozing in and they don’t give a damn about anything apart from their share price.”

She added that the A58 was already congested and building the new orbital road ought to happen before anything else.

She said: “Everyone wants the infrastructure sorted out first. Schooling has not really been ironed out and there’s the question of medical provision. At the moment there are too many unanswered questions.”

However, she was pessimistic about the prospects of opposing the scheme given the council’s recent record on appeals.

Leeds East MP George Mudie said: “Rachel is spot on - the infrastructure has got to be right. It would mean building that would inconvenience the existing communities unless the infrastructure is right.”

A Consultative Forum has been set up to discuss issues raised by the proposals. It includes representatives from local groups as well as members of the developer’s team.

Forum member George Hall of Scholes, one of the villages potentially affected by the proposals, said the important thing was to make sure the scheme was sustainable. He said: “I accept that the forthcoming application is on an allocated site. At some time development will take place. But we need to protect it for future generations.” Plans Panel East will disscuss the proposed development on Thursday. Mr Crates says: “Given the scale and significance of the proposals it is important that Plans Panel has an opportunity to comment on the proposals prior to the submission of a planning application.”