'Outrage' in Linton as residents battle developers over 'loophole' in new homes plan

An artists impression of the proposed development from the access point leading on from Tib Garth. Picture: Kebbell Homes
An artists impression of the proposed development from the access point leading on from Tib Garth. Picture: Kebbell Homes

Linton residents are said to ‘outraged’ by an ‘absurd’ planning application which they claim is exploiting a loophole regarding the village’s neighbourhood plan.

In 2015, Kebbell Homes submitted plans to build 10 homes on a strip of land to the north east of Tib Garth in Linton, but were refused.

Having reviewed the application, the company have submitted plans for the same plot to build 26 homes, but the proposals have come under heavy fire from residents, with more than 120 objection comments made on the Leeds City Council planning site.

Resident of Tib Garth, Kevin Downie, touched on just a few of the issues raised by people in the village

He said: “Kebbell have not consulted anyone in the village about their plans - they don’t really care how feasible or damaging they are, they just want the profit.

“Access for pedestrians to the elevated site is via a privately owned road without a Public Right of Way over it, or via a dirt track which leads onto a main road with no footpath.

“There’s no consideration to elderly, disabled or young people wanting to walk from their homes to go somewhere or catch a bus for example.

“Access for vehicles is going to be on an extremely steep ramp which would be impassable in the winter months and would cause a river of water when it rains down Tib Garth.

“The quarrying of the vehicle access would have to be on industrial scale, within meters of existing houses with families living in them.

“The lack of amenities in Linton with just one pub - no school, doctors, shops, church - they are all in Collingham, a 30 minute walk away and are full up already.

“Linton people are outraged by this. It’s not just me.”

In the last few years, Linton has been in the process of developing a neighbourhood plan to maintain some control over planning applications placed on the village.

The proposed site for development in Kebbell’s application is outlined in Linton’s neighbourhood plan as an area which should be protected from development.

But Mr Downie claimed Kebbell are exploiting a window of opportunity by legally appealing the neighbourhood plan, which is yet to be adopted by Leeds City Council (LCC).

He said: “Linton neighbourhood plan has been voted on with 98.5 per cent of voters supporting it, but it has not been adopted yet by LCC because Kebbell Homes have challenged the wording regarding the site they want to develop.

“In the neighbourhood plan the village has stated that they want the land protected and returned to Green Belt to be farmed or left as meadow.

“Kebbell have been to the High Court to challenge the neighbourhood plan and lost, they then appealed the decision and lost again.

“But before LCC could adopt the plan, Kebbell applied to the Supreme Court to appeal the decision by the High Court. They are just trying to stall the adoption of the plan to give them time to have a new planning application processed.”

LCC are currently struggling to refuse planning applications after government planning inspectors told the council it could not meet its five year housing supply.

Mr Downie said Kebbell were creating a window of opportunity to have their application passed by a council that will struggle to refuse it.

Wetherby MP, Alec Shelbrooke, has supported residents, claiming he will do what he can to solve the ‘loophole’.

He said: “I believe new homes should be built on available urban brownfield sites before rural green land, I fully support the position of local residents.

“A possible loophole in legislation has been brought to my attention and I am in the process of raising this specific matter with Ministers.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Executive Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, defended the position of LCC and said they were ‘disappointed as anybody’ that the process had been held up.

He said: “The plan in Linton is delayed, despite our best efforts, because a third party has decided to appeal to every court in the land.

“We’ve worked very hard with the community in Linton to help them prepare their Neighbourhood Plan and we are as disappointed as anybody that appeal after appeal has been made, slowing down the plan making process.

“One of the main reasons for delay on Site Allocations is because we have listened to the calls from Outer North East members for a large site for new homes.

“When the Headley Hall proposal (the ward members’ preference) fell away we were forced to look for a new site, causing delays including to our consultation.”

The developers did not comment on the case at supreme court but refuted claims that they had not consulted people over the plans.

A spokesperson for Kebbell Homes said: “Kebbell consulted the village with respect to the original 10 unit scheme but it was not felt appropriate to re-consult with the amended scheme.

“The 26 unit scheme has been prepared in the light of the council’s reasons for refusal to the earlier scheme and in particular provides for 9 affordable homes for the local community.

“As explained to the village, at the time of the consultation, Kebbell envisages this as a highly attractive scheme and a compliment to the village.

“Although the access road looks as if it will be steep it has been carefully engineered and meets the requirements of the highway authority.

“Pains will be taken to ensure any disruption to neighbours will be kept to a minimum at all times and before any development commences meetings will be arranged with those in Tib Garth to discuss and agree the strategy.”