Leeds housing strategy like Buckaroo, says councillor

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A Morley councillor has likened housing policy in Leeds to the children’s board game Buckaroo.

Coun Robert Finnigan made the remarks at a City Plans Panel meeting on Thursday afternoon, which saw outline planning permission granted to build up to 200 homes on Low Moor Farm in Morley.

More than 200 people had objected to the plans for the farm, on Albert Drive, amid concerns around the impact on traffic, drainage and school places but eight of the panel’s 13 councillors gave the application the green light.

Speaking out against the proposal, Coun Finnigan made the comparison to highlight the perceived impact of building houses in unsuitable places had on infrastructure.

He told committee members: “When I was a young man there was a game called Buckaroo. And it involved you putting more and more objects on the donkey’s back until it kicked off.

“That is what the housing strategy is like. You cannot have a point with sustainable development where you get to the stage where the donkey is about to kick it all off.”

A visit to the site was made by members of the panel on Thursday morning to observe where the homes are now likely to be built and the issues developers Persimmon Homes will need to overcome before a brick is laid.

Among these is the presence of overhead power lines, which Persimmon says it may bury beneath the earth to ensure that homes can be erected without disruption. A late increase to the number of proposed houses had also been made - up 15 from 185.

Speaking in favour of the proposal, James Hall - a partner in town planning consultants Barton Willmore - said: “We don’t think the site is constrained by the overhead power lines.

“Robust ecological and transport assessments have been carried out which indicate 200 dwellings can be accommodated.”

Representatives for the developers also insisted that “traffic calming measures” would deal with concerns raised about vehicle flow on Wide Lane, Albert Drive and other surrounding roads.

Coun Tom Leadley (Morley North), who sits on the Panel, was one of three councillors to vote against and said: “This is one we’ve had a considerable amount of concern about in Morley.

“We will be having the second wave of site allocations presented later this year so it is a bit premature to be pushing things forward now.

“The impact on the appearance of the A653 corridor between Morley and Middleton should be a concern to everyone in Leeds because it makes a rather pleasant into Leeds for drivers coming off the M62.”