Racecourse Approach Update 10-July-2020
As we have outlined in previous newsletters, this application by Taylor Wimpey to build 800 new houses has been strongly opposed by BW during the various stages of the planning process. There have also been many individual objections from local people concerned about the negative consequences on Wetherby from the creation of such a massive development, see the Leeds CC planning portal or our website.
The impact of this development will be severe, particularly in terms of increased traffic and air pollution adding to the existing highways problems of the town, together with further strain on already overburdened schools, health services, local infrastructure and services. However, despite the strong grounds for objection, in August 2019, Leeds Plans Panel approved outline planning permission subject to certain conditions. One major condition was provision to allow access to the site from York Road. This was also a requirement from the Government Inspector, when approving inclusion of this site in the overall Leeds Site Allocations Plan (SAP).
The application is to be considered once again by the Plans Panel (meeting of Councillors) on Thursday, 16th July 2020. The current situation is that the developers, Taylor Wimpey, have been unable to reach an agreement to purchase some land which would allow vehicular access to the site from York Road. This access point is important and one of a number of conditions imposed on the developers by the Plans Panel. In short, the conditions have to be met before they can start building. Taylor Wimpey maintain that they have made a reasonable offer for the land and, as they have not been able to persuade the landowner to sell, they now wish the condition to be removed. The company has served a Notice of Appeal which may result in a Public Inquiry if the Plans Panel do not support the removal.
In their report before the Plans Panel, Leeds Planning Officers now state that there is no technical evidence to demonstrate that the absence of vehicular access at this point in York Road would be detrimental. They suggest that other access points from Racecourse Approach itself are acceptable. It is evident from the report that Planning officials are concerned that Leeds City Council is in danger of losing an Appeal by Taylor Wimpey and costs incurred by the Council in such a process could be considerable.
On being informed about this latest twist in an already protracted application, BW convened an urgent Steering Group meeting to discuss the situation. Representatives of BW will be attending the Plans Panel meeting and we are currently working in liaison with our Ward Councillors to engage with Leeds City Planners to try to resolve various issues in advance of the meeting. One of these issues relates to making representations at the meeting. In normal circumstances, objectors are given a few minutes to outline their specific reasons of opposition. In this case, the Planning Officers report states that as there are no new material issues, there are no grounds to allow public speaking at this meeting. This statement is in direct conflict to letters sent to individual objectors which states they can speak at the meeting. We believe that BW and Ward Councillor representations are essential at the meeting and will seek to ensure this is allowed.
The issue of removing the condition about the access point in York Road is an important one. If the Plans Panel allow the removal of the condition, then it will be in direct conflict with the approved Leeds Site Allocation Plan (SAP). Such action will call into question the relevance of the SAP and will undermine the whole ethos of the planning process.
In the event of such an outcome, then BW will consider writing to the Secretary of State with a view to ‘calling in the application’ which could result in a Public Inquiry. Whilst we sincerely hope that this can be avoided, BW is prepared to proceed on such a basis and work to achieve a similar outcome as with our successful efforts stopping the Stockeld Park/Hallam development of 210 houses on the Spofforth Hill boundary.
Please visit https://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=947&MId=10008&Ver=4 to view the agenda and documentation for the Plans Panel meeting. Due to the current Government restrictions concerning the Covid-19 crisis and social distancing measures, the Plans Panel meeting will be held remotely. Access to observe the meeting on 16th July at 1:30pm can be found via this link.
A report of the proceedings will be available on this website and also will be reported in our next newsletter.
Although some members of the public have already kindly contributed, Better Wetherby needs further financial support to pay for expert consultants and generally fund our wider efforts on behalf of the local community. Public support is essential to increase the chance of success. Please help protect your community by making a donation.
In developing the evidence-base regarding life damaging air pollution in Wetherby, monitoring and measurements in several air pollution “hot spots” in the town continue to take place by representatives of Better Wetherby. We have also managed to convince Leeds City Council to locate official pollution measurement meters at four of these:
· Pedestrian Crossing High Street/Horsefair
· Crossley Street School
· Westgate/Crossley Street
· North Street/St James Street
There is also a Leeds Climate Change Consultation taking place, which Better Wetherby. would encourage everyone to participate in. It can be accessed at:
Air pollution 'triggers hundreds more heart attacks and strokes' Higher air pollution in the UK trigger hundreds more heart attacks, strokes and acute asthma attacks each year, research suggests.
A team at King's College London looked at data from London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. See link:
RACECOURSE APPROACH - This photograph shows some of land where the 800 Taylor Wimpey homes will be built.
As we previously reported, despite strong objections from Better Wetherby, Leeds City Council Plans Panel recently approved an outline planning application by Taylor Wimpey to build 800 houses on land adjacent to Racecourse Approach. A further 300 houses are to be subject of a separate application by another developer.
Serious concerns remain about this application. These include the site’s isolation, lack of public transport, adverse impact of increased traffic from the development adding to congestion, lack of parking spaces, road safety, and pressures upon already overstretched local services.
Better Wetherby accepts that this development will now be going ahead. We will be working with LCC planners and the developers to ensure that the concerns of Wetherby residents are considered and addressed in the best possible manner.