74,000 Leeds house plan approved

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A plan to build 74,000 homes across Leeds over the next 14 years has been approved by council chiefs.

The proposals, which formed part of a “Core Strategy” for the city, were given the green light at a full council meeting yesterday (Wednesday) after the ruling Labour group voted in favour.

Other groups, including the Morley Borough Independents (MBIs), abstained.

Council leader Keith Wakefield said: “I am delighted that after years of hard work and consultation we have now approved the new Core Strategy for Leeds.

“Its importance cannot be overstated, as it provides us with a modern blueprint for sustainable economic growth through development, housing and job creation across the whole city for at least the next 15 years.

“Today is a highly significant step towards making Leeds the best city to live and work in the UK and I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part in this major achievement.”

Debate had raged about the realism of the 74,000 target, with Coun Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods and planning insiting that the figure was “slap bang in the middle” between the 90,000 homes he said developers had argued for and the 50,000 that some communities had claimed was necessary.

He added: “The Core Strategy represents our ambitions for Leeds right through to 2028 and as such it is real achievement for our city. We have sought to be ambitious and realistic about what we need if we want Leeds to be the best city in the UK in terms of housing, land for employment and green spaces.”

However, Coun Tom Leadley (MBIs) questioned the figure, saying it was “beyond reason.”

He said: “Sooner or later it will fall into disrepute as it is realised that we cannot possibly reach it, and we will end up drifting without any direction whatsoever.”

Should the target be reached, housebuilding across Leeds would have to be accelerated to nearly 5,300 homes per year - more than double the number that was completed in 2012/13.

Figures regarding the proportion of the new builds that will be built in Morley is also hotly disputed.

MBI councillors say that the Core Strategy will see more than 7,000 built in Morley over the next decade and a half, although Coun Neil Dawson (Labour) insisted that those figures represented an area stretching to different parts of South Leeds including Beeston.

He said: “I keep reading about 7,200 new homes in Greater Morley, it is simply not true, indeed nearly a third of this number already have planning permission. We cannot stop these from being built.

“Another third - 2,500 - are not in the two Morley wards. My Morley Borough Independent colleagues seem to want fight battles not in Morley but in Middleton or Wortley or Lofthouse or Ardsley. Areas they do not represent.

“Not to have a plan, or delaying adopting the Core strategy, will only mean that every green belt site in Morley is vulnerable and significant development can take place.”