Leeds Labour Council has rejected the proposal to build 380 houses on open space on Breary Lane in Bramhope.
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The proposal was an example of the sort of speculative rush to development which the LibDem/Tory Coalition’s NPPF has encouraged and licensed.

Local residents and groups – including Bramhope and Carlton Parish Council, and Adel and Wharfedale Labour Party – put in a series of well-argued objections.

The Labour Council has taken full account of these in its rejection of the application.

The developer in this case was trying to jump the gun in advance of full consideration of the Leeds Site Allocations plan.

Encouraged by the whip hand the LibDem/Tories’ NPPF has given to developers, Miller Homes clearly hoped to bounce the Council into agreement.

They’ve failed – at least for the moment.

Grounds of rejection

The basis for rejection is first the premature nature of this dash to develop, and second its failure to take into account the infrastructural needs – in transport, access, schooling requirements.

Leeds Council is also not satisfied that ‘development of the scale indicated can achieve satisfactory standards of design, landscaping and residential amenity and provision of on-site Greenspace.’

Adel and Wharfedale Labour Party raised the issues of school places and infrastructural needs concerning this site as long ago as its comments on the initial Site Allocations Plans.

As we then summed up in our objection

‘This is a premature proposal. It uses the National Planning Policy Framework legislation

of 2012 to side-step the council’s Site Allocations plans to develop the area before the

council’s plans are finalised. Miller Homes’ proposals make a mockery of local

democracy and localism.’

You can read the full document detailing grounds for rejection here. http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?id=50603&LLL=0

Be sure to check out the supporting document.

The Sting in the Tail – beware the Coalition’s NPPF

The Council has made its decision – and rejected this proposal.

However, it recognizes that its decision may be challenged.

This is a stark reminder of the situation the Labour Council is in under the NPPF.

The LibDem/Tory National Planning and Policy Framework creates a presumption in favour of development, removes the necessity to take brownfield first, and provides for an appeals system and outside decision-making which favours developers. As we’ve pointed out before, in planning the Labour Council is no longer master in its own house.

The Labour Council has won Round 1 in this particular contest. But with the NPPF as referee, don’t expect that to be the end of the fight.

Residents will need to back the Council on this one.

What’s in it for Leeds City Council?

The Council’s rejection of this proposal should serve as a reminder of the sort of arguments it takes seriously – the needs of local people, the need to plan rationally for these, and the need for infrastructural support – which is essential to successful development.

It should also be a reminder of the arguments which DO NOT sway it.

We occasionally hear the idea that ‘Leeds Council supports development because it produces more Council Tax.’

So let’s get this clear.

New development and its infrastructure is a net cost to the Council.

Section 106 money – that’s the contribution developers make to the costs of infrastructure – NEVER provides for anything like the total infrastructural costs of development.

Nor does the extra Council tax revenue development brings.

Any argument that the Council is swayed by the temptation of more Council tax is LibDem/Tory propaganda – designed to distract attention away from the results of their own NPPF.

A Labour Housing Policy

Nationally and locally the Labour Party recognises the housing crisis which has developed.

We need more housing – and we especially need affordable homes – houses for young families, for the infirm and elderly.

We need housing which is properly resourced – with provision of the infrastructure in schools, roads and public transport which is essential to it.

We need rationally planned development to address need – need which is locally assessed and determined – including the need for green space.

The LibDem/Tory Coalition’s policies have made all this harder – with their NPPF challenging local decisions, their removal of Local Authority power to build new schools, their support for a free-for-all transport system – and their savage attacks on local government revenue. Their hand-in-glove alliance with the developers poses a major problem.

By contrast, Labour’s plans for 2015 – outlined only this week by Hilary Benn – centre on a truly massive shift of power back from Whitehall and Westminster – to Leeds – and Bramhope.

You’ll have to wait until May 2015 to vote for that.

In the meantime, get behind the Labour Council – and get ready for Round 2.

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