Providing housing for the future

Bid for more affordable housing.
Bid for more affordable housing.

Anyone living in or near Wetherby at the moment can’t fail to notice the number of new housing developments that are sprouting up like mushrooms on our doorstep, writes Wetherby Ward councillor Alan Lamb.

Please let me make my position very clear at the outset - I am not dead-set against developers or housing.

Nor do I want to see our magnificent town stuck in some 1950’s time warp longing for the nostalgia of days gone by.

In order to be successful in our own right, we do need to grow and expand. But here’s the rub - we need to do it sustainably.

We need to do it properly, and we need to make sure that happens from now on. Wetherby currently has over 500 properties under construction. You can add to that another 1,000 from Leeds and Harrogate councils in the various stages of planning.

These are mainly executive homes with large numbers of bedrooms. That is not sustainable for our community – young families cannot afford a five or six-bedroom mansion.

What we do need is genuinely affordable housing, and a range of smaller 1 or 2-bedroom properties.

These will allow those young couples and families to get started on the property ladder but also, should they wish, people can downsize into a smaller property too. This frees up both ends of the housing market and keeps it moving. Sustainably.

Coupled with the number of houses being developed in town, we also have the complicating factor of the West/North Yorkshire county border to contend with.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of chairing the inaugural meeting of the Better Wetherby Partnership.

At the moment, this is an informal coming together of the Wetherby civic organisations and local campaign groups. We are truly fortunate in the town, that we have a wide number of these groups all looking to protect our environment. I have nothing but praise for the volunteers of these groups and their level of dedication in giving up their own free time for the benefit of Wetherby.

The outcome of the meeting was to present a united front from Wetherby to both Leeds City Council and Harrogate Borough Council. This was in regard to excessive cross-border development on both sides.

A joint letter has now been sent to the Chief Planning Officers of both councils calling for better dialogue and more partnership working between them. We need to make sure that neither side is simply dumping houses right on the border.

Planning decisions last for decades, so it is only right and proper that they should be done correctly in the first place, and that means talking to your neighbours.

Finally, but still on the planning front, I would like to make everyone aware of another Wetherby development.

Land to the east of the town at Swinnow Park is currently subject to a planning application with Leeds City Council for 800 dwellings (reference: 17/02594/OT).

I would recommend that if you have a comment on this application, either: write to Planning Services, Merrion House, 110 Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8BB; sending an email to: planning@leeds.gov.uk; via the planning services website at www.leeds.gov.uk/publicaccess.