The comments were made during a discussion on Leeds City Council’s local plan draft, which includes an option to further encourage the development of 20-minute neighbourhoods – a model of urban development in which all goods and services are within a 20-minute walk.
It is hoped such a policy could provide a solution to high car usage, and help combat climate change by driving down carbon emissions.
But the deputy leader of Leeds City Council’s Conservatives group Coun Alan Lamb has suggested more realistic policy was needed for outer areas of Leeds.
Coun Lamb, who represents the Wetherby ward, told a meeting of the council’s infrastructure scrutiny committee: “There is a conflict with things such as 20-minute neighbourhoods in the outer areas. It is just impossible to create a 20-minute neighbourhood in the area I represent.
“A car-free neighbourhood in Wetherby is not be an option, because there simply isn’t the public transport infrastructure to support that.
“There are some big conflicts we are building in and the climate emergency almost makes the conflicts bigger than they were to start with, so it is all about how we will address those issues.”
A local plan is a council document that sets out the long-term strategy for development in a city. Its terms are often referred to when local authorities are making decisions on planning applications.
According to a consultation carried out by Leeds City Council, many are “very supportive” of the idea of including 20-minute neighbourhoods in the document as a means of tackling climate change and the effects of current and future pandemics. It added, however, that the public was keen to know how such an idea could be done in Leeds.
Chair of the committee Coun Neil Walshaw (Lab) responded to Coun Lamb: “I know what you are saying about public transport infrastructure, as we’ve said all along, when looking at the climate emergency, transport is a clear Leeds weakness. A lot of policy needs to be set out to address that.
“We need better local centres that are more accessible, and bringing partners in to make that happen.
“Obviously [outer areas] are the more car dependent parts of Leeds. There is a higher carbon use.”
Coun Kayleigh Brooks (Lab) said: “I would say instead of potentially knocking a policy on the head because it doesn’t fit everywhere, it would be great if we could have a bit of trust in the planning system.”
Presenting the information Kathryn Holloway, the council’s policy and plans team leader, said: “There won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. There was a clear split between those favouring car-free development and those who felt we shouldn’t become an anti-car city.”