URGENT: Our Green Belt Under Major Threat

Just 3 Weeks To Save Our Green Belt from 475 Houses

For the past 6 years Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum, Aireborough Civic Society, local Councillors & MPs have been opposing Leeds City Council Plans to take away important Green Belt sites in Aireborough for building.

During that time we have kept hearing politicians say that the Green Belt is protected!

     Will’s Gill:   Medieval Fields to the North of Guiseley Church.  Open countryside looking towards Otley Chevin. 

We were extremely puzzled and disappointed that the Planning Inspector removed many other Green Belt sites from the Leeds Sites Allocation Plan, but not 4 important sites in Aireborough.  The Neighbourhood Forum felt that this injustice could not be ignored and agreed to pay for further advice from the barrister who represented us at the hearing.

We now have 3 weeks to challenge the Planning Inspector’s decision, to allow building on our Green Belt, by going for a judicial review.   Our barrister considers that we have a very good chance of success.  It is important to note that we are doing this for residents (current and future) not ourselves.  

However the costs and timescale make this a massive challenge.   £40,000 is needed by 21st August for us to be able to challenge these dreadful plans.    But if 4,000 people each donate £10 then we shall be able to go ahead and try to overturn the decision.

How to donate:

If people use the Local Giving appeal site here, we get gift aid if they tick the relevant box. https://localgiving.org/appeal/greenbeltlegalfees/  

Full details and links on the Aireborough Neighbourhood Forum website:

https://aireboroughnf.wordpress.com/

Or on Aireborough Voice:

https://www.facebook.com/aireborough.voice

Donations can also be made by cheque, transfers etc.

Larger donations are also needed and could make all the difference.  These should take the form of pledges.

Please contact Jennifer Kirkby: jakirkby@btconnect.com

or Linda Kitching: rogerandlynda@guiseley.co.uk

Background:

The Green Belt to be lost is at:

  1. Will’s Gill – next to the medieval fields in the countryside North of Guiseley Church (Grade 1 Listed) – with attractive footpaths and views towards Otley Chevin.
  2. The Ings – an important wildlife floodplain separating Guiseley from Menston;
  3. Hollins Hill – next to historic listed buildings and prominent landscape.
  4. Victoria Avenue – next to Yeadon Tarn and the Airport.

Three of the four sites are of historical importance in addition to their Green Belt function and the planning inspector was made aware of this in our submissions and at the examination.  All will add to already chronic congestion (about 800 more cars) and air pollution and there are access issues with all of the sites. Members and residents attended enquiries and made responses in writing with legitimate objections.   These have been ignored.

The Inspector’s Report

The Planning Inspector who examined the Leeds plans has now given the go ahead to allow the 4 Green Belt sites in Aireborough to be built on.   NOWHERE IN HER REPORT ARE ANY REASONS GIVEN FOR  HER DECISION, despite the fact that GREEN BELT is supposed to be protected and one site (near Guiseley Church) is in the Conservation Area.

We have no evidence that the inspector even visited the sites to assess the impact on the landscape.

Even more questionable is that Leeds is allowing 810 more houses than it actually needs to meet its target, so the 475 in Aireborough are not actually needed!  Again the inspector failed to comment on this objection too.

If we do nothing to prevent this damage to our local countryside we shall regret it and therefore we urge you to support our campaign by donating, and also spreading the word to all who value our Green Belt and countryside.   Other parts of the country are also suffering from poor planning choices and decisions.

Key Points Justifying A Judicial Review of the Planning Inspectors Decision to Allow 4 Aireborough Sites to Remain in the SAP

  1. The NPPF states that Green Belt sites should only be taken in EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES.  Leeds has never explained what these exceptional circumstances are and NEITHER has the Planning Inspector.
  2. Leeds has taken more GREEN BELT LAND than they actually needed —  for 810 dwellings more than the target number.
  3. No evidence that the Planning Inspector even visited Wills Gill, The Ings, or Hollins Hill.
  4. The Inspector has also allowed 36 hectares of Green Belt land to be used near Leeds/Bradford Airport for an employment hub, without clear reasons of why other nearby brownfield land could not be used.
  5. Advice from a barrister on the inspector’s report is that we would have a good chance of winning because
    a) she failed to answer technical anomalies in Leeds statistics,
    b) nor did she explain why individual sites should be retained in the SAP despite evidence to the contrary presented by many organizations and residents at consultations and at the enquiry.

It is therefore the intention to apply for a judicial review into the inspector’s handling of the Leeds SAP Enquiry.    This is quite an undertaking as an application will cost about £12,000 and the costs of a full hearing could cost up to £40,000 – a real David and Goliath situation.

The fees are to employ a specialist planning barrister and a firm of solicitors who know the complexity of planning law, are aware of case-law, and have some understanding of the complicated situation in Leeds and Aireborough.

However if 4000 residents donated just £10 each those costs would be covered.     The timescale is also very tight with a deadline of 21st August.   Donations urgently requested.  A crowdfunding site has been set up for this.

https://localgiving.org/appeal/greenbeltlegalfees/