Massive 785-home Wetherby plans reviewed

Plans to build hundreds of houses on a site near Wetherby were reviewed by Leeds City Council planning chiefs last week.

By Richard Beecham
Monday, 14th March 2022, 10:21 am
Updated Monday, 14th March 2022, 10:35 am

The application, to build 785 homes on a 39-hectare site off Racecourse Approach, had previously received permission in principle from council decision-makers.

But officers say issues around the proposed mix of affordable houses means councillors have to once again be consulted on the plans.

The development is expected to be built in eight phases over 13 years – with 138 houses built by 2025 and the final tranche of houses complete by 2036. The site will also contain 275 affordable houses, made up of 122 two bed, 105 three bed, 24 four bed houses, as well as another 24 two bed flats.

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The site also includes a central community hub, with a primary school, play area and retail unit. The primary school and retail unit will be brought forward in later planning applications.

The outline application had previously been for 800 houses, and the change in layout requires councillors to discuss the change in plans before making a final decision – this is known as a position statement.

Leeds City Council officers were generally supportive of the scheme, stating in a report: “As noted above, the proposal represents a significant residential development in Wetherby, is of significant interest within the local community and is one of the larger housing allocations in the Site Allocations Plan.

“The success of the development will rely heavily on achieving an appropriate scale, appearance, layout, and landscaping scheme on site.

“It is recognised that the developer has continued to engage with both the council and local community following the granting of the outline consent. The approach of the developer to date in respect of public/community engagement has been comprehensive and has allowed for detailed discussion and engagement with local community representatives.

“The general layout put forward and approach to develop distinct character areas is considered to be a positive approach and has responded to issues and concerns raised by the Council and local community representatives to date.”

It added, however, that there were still “clearly issues to be resolved” in regarding the housing mix, adding that there was an over-provision of two bed affordable units, and a “significant under-provision” of affordable four-bed houses, at six percent of all four beds would be classed as affordable.

According to the council’s own planning rules, new developments in this part of Leeds should contain at least 35 per cent affordable homes.

The report states: “It is likely that to resolve these matters, alongside issues such as car parking domination in some parts of the site and the lack of private amenity space for apartment blocks, that meaningful changes will be required.

“Officers also feel there is still room for improvement with regards to the proposed design of the development and whether there is a need to push boundaries further with regards to innovation.”

As this is a position statement meeting, no decision will be made, and councillors will instead be invited to instruct planning officers on what to do next.

A final decision on reserved matters – the more detailed parts of the plan – are likely to be made in the coming months.