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Racecourse Approach estate is a “non runner” says Hopps

by Wetherby Liberal Democrats on 4 April, 2019

Wetherby Lib Dems insist the plans are totally unacceptable in their current form

Wetherby Liberal Democrats continue to oppose the scheme for 800 houses opposite Wetherby Racecourse on the edge of the town.

As the Wetherby News has reported, the scheme was deferred at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel last week.

But it remains in the Site Allocation Plan – which determines where building is scheduled in the Leeds area – and that plan is due to be confirmed later this summer.

There is potential therefore for the scheme to be resubmitted after the May 2 elections – with, as the Wetherby News report makes clear, Labour still reluctant to abandon it.

Lib Dem candidate in the May 2 elections, David Hopps, said: “I’ve promised an honest approach on housing and that means that we must admit that some new housing in the Wetherby area is inevitable.

“Sometimes if we cannot stop a development we must do everything in our power to improve it.

“But this scheme is so flawed for so many reasons it is simply unsustainable. In its present form it would be a blight on the town. It does not deserve serious consideration.”

This, in detail, is why Wetherby Liberal Democrats officially objected to the proposal:

17/02594/OT | Outline planning application with all matters reserved except for access, for the creation of a new community comprising up to 800 dwellings, a food store (A1) (up to 372 sq.m), primary school and public open spaces | Land Off Racecourse Approach Wetherby LS22

Wetherby Liberal Democrats object to this proposal.

We recognise that this site is in the Site Allocation Plan, but this is a plan that has been challenged, reduced and that has dubious validity. We also recognise that a less flawed proposal for this site, at a distant point in the future, might deserve further consideration in view of the need to deliver Wetherby’s perceived housing share under the Site Allocation Plan. We also do not share the fear that the site will become a rival commercial centre. Quite the opposite: under these plans, it is no sort of independent centre at all.

Nevertheless, we believe there are strong reasons for rejection:

We support the view of A Better Wetherby that: The proposed site is clearly “fragmented” in that it is physically disconnected from Wetherby by a motorway, the A1(M), and this severance issue cannot be resolved (as stated in Leeds own site assessment). The presence of a motorway is a severe and physical barrier to connectivity of services, facilities and employment opportunities and sustainable modes of travel meaning that residents in the proposed allocation will be less likely to walk into Wetherby.”

Any development with such glaring shortcomings must achieve high levels of sustainability, identity and character to be regarded as positive to the area. Despite the additional stipulations laid down, we do not believe the site fulfils the sustainability criteria laid down in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The proposals remain inadequate for many reasons, many of which are the responsibility of Leeds City Council not the developer, including:

  • Creating a new settlement on the other side of the A1 would create a dangerous precedent and lead to the potential for urban sprawl that would undermine the character of Wetherby and surrounding villages for ever.
  • The presence of one convenience shop and one primary school, but no consideration of the need for doctor, dental, leisure facilities or other services.
  • Consideration of a Hopper bus to connect the settlement with Wetherby, but no consideration of a larger bus area on site (a shortcoming also apparent in Wetherby itself) or the chance to produce joined-up proposals with additional bus routes between Wetherby and York / Leeds.
  • No serious commitment to cycle paths into Wetherby, nor cycling facilities within the town as a result of greater usage.
  • No serious consideration of additional car parking needs in Wetherby