Planning chiefs at Leeds City Council had originally rejected blueprints to build 129 homes in the Strawberry fields site in Carlton, near Rothwell, but the government inspectorate announced this week it had overturned the decision on appeal.
This has prompted an angry backlash from Leeds’s Liberal Democrat councillors, who believe the community has been let down by the council’s “irresponsible management” of its house building strategy.
Leeds Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Stewart Golton claimed housing targets that the council had pushed for were too high, and that unreasonable developments were now having to be passed in order to make up the numbers.
He said: “The community of Carlton is paying the price for the council’s irresponsible mismanagement as a planning authority.
“If the council doesn’t keep up with the target it commits to, then landowners can challenge that the council hasn’t identified the right land to build on, and offer their own land instead, often in unsuitable places.”
A decision against Miller Homes’ plan by Leeds City Council was originally made in May 2018, but the applicant appealed this with the government planning inspector.
The Inspector agreed with the applicant that Strawberry Fields could be brought forward for building.
His decision read: “In light of my above reasoning and having regard to all other matters raised, I conclude that, having regard to local and national planning policy for the delivery of housing, the appeal site is an appropriate location for the proposed development. The appeal is therefore allowed.”
Local Labour councillor Karen Bruce posted a statement to her website, which read: “It’s so frustrating that local decisions can be overturned by a national government as it flies in the face of local democracy.
“Some may try to blame the council for this decision for their own reasons. But I can’t be clearer that this decision was made by the government inspector and it is plain wrong.
“Unfortunately the previous Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government relaxed planning legislation to help developers by having a presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’ which makes it much harder for local councils to stop development and for government planning inspectors to overturn local decisions.”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by this decision. Whilst part of the Carlton site has been allocated for housing within the Site Allocations Plan (SAP), the larger section to the south is not a site that the council is promoting for housing.
“This is reflected in the safeguarding designation in the SAP. Consequently, the council has robustly defended the release of this site through the appeal and it is therefore regrettable that an independent Inspector has made their conclusions for this to be allowed.”
A statement put online by the Carlton Neighbourhood Village Forum stated: “Unfortunately, it was not the result we or Leeds City Council wanted. The appeal was allowed, which means the developers are able to proceed and develop the site.
“The initial planning application was only for access and the number of houses. The type of houses, layout of the site, etc are all still to be decided. We look forward to working with Leeds City Council and the developers as these plans are developed.”