Friday, 12 April 2013

Reportage: Government green lights controversial North Leeds development

A ‘ludicrous decision’ to overrule Leeds City Council’s decision to refuse a controversial housing development in Horsforth has been met with anger from the community.

The plans by Harrow Estates to build 400 homes on Calverley Lane was rejected by the council in 2011 after residents voiced concerns that the town didn’t have the infrastructure to cope with it.

But the decision was overturned by the government who ignored the pleas of local residents and has given the project the green light.

Councillor Cleasby at Clariant Works site
Now Councillors and residents are furious that the development can go ahead, which will see the building of new houses and shops on the grounds of the old Clariant Works chemical plant.

Coun Brian Cleasby said: “It’s in a ridiculous position, it’s completely daft – it really is unsustainable.”

A spokesperson for Harrow Estates said: “The opposition by local councillors throughout the promotion of this site is disappointing given the overwhelming pressure for new homes in Leeds.”

The original proposals were rejected in the most part because of the difficulty residents will have gaining access to local shops, schools and the public transport network without the use of a car.

However, a Leeds City spokesperson said this week: “The scheme will bring new jobs, new homes and meet a number of other needs of the local neighbourhood as well as contributing to the ambitious housing target the city has for the future.”

Horsforth resident Ruth Morris, 26, said: “They haven’t thought it through at all. The A65 is a nightmare already at most times and the Horsforth roundabout is a nightmare at rush hour because you cannot get across it.”

Coun Cleasby explained that when a proposal is considered by the council, it has to be evaluated with consideration to factors such as the layout of local roads and the amount of cars on them.

He said: “The only way to get off the site is to use the ring road – which was our first objection. Going to work, going to school, they’d have to use the ring road.

Concerns have also been raised over school places.

Coun Cleasby added: “What’s most ridiculous is that the site falls under an LS18 postcode. This means that now Horsforth School has changed their admissions policy, they’ll have to give priority to the new families moving into the new houses. There’s no extra capacity, and we’ve got a minimal amount of money for more secondary school places.”

Artist's impression of the new development
A spokesperson from Leeds City Council said: “The site will deliver 50 affordable housing units with a mix of two and three bedroom flats along with two shops. The developer will be subsiding a new bus service which will operated seven days a week along with making a financial contribution to the provision of new schools in the area.”

And a spokesperson from Harrow Estates added: “In addition to providing much needed new homes and affordable housing, the development will also be funding significant improvements to the ring road as well as a bus service, providing approximately £1m to be spent on primary education locally as well as enhancing the existing green spaces used by local cricket and football clubs as part of the former site.”

This article was originally featured in Leeds Northern.

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