An eight-week consultation has begun into housing plans which an MP is warning could rip out Wharfedale and Aireborough’s “green lung”.
Leeds City Council’s Sites Allocation Plan proposes plots for thousands of homes to be built across Horsforth, Aireborough and Wharfedale over the next 15 years.
The council has drawn up the proposals to meet expected rises in demand, but local politicians fear they will overburden local services and cause the loss of large areas of green fields.
The consultation began on Monday and will include a series of drop-in feedback events, including an Otley session at the Core Resource Centre, from 3pm to 8pm, on Thursday, June 20, and one at Horsforth School, from 10am to 3pm, on Saturday, June 22.
A public meeting to discuss the potential impact of the proposals was also due to take place in Pool-in-Wharfedale last night.
MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) said: “There is a real danger we could lose swathes of precious greenbelt in north Leeds and Wharfedale so the city council hits its targets for housebuilding, targets that are questionable and have been challenged.
“Residents are angry and deeply concerned that their green field and greenbelt sites have been put into the Local Development Framework.
“New homes would mean a higher demand for places at schools that are already full, lead to more traffic on already congested roads, and even make it difficult for people to obtain adequate medical and dental care.
“Building three and four-bedroom houses on green sites will do nothing to ease the housing crisis, or assist those who desperately need affordable and social housing, it will just make more money for developers.
“The council must look at prioritising brownfield sites and get the estimated 5,000 empty homes in the Leeds area back into use before even considering the use of green land.
“There is a genuine need for affordable and sustainable development but this cannot come at the cost of our ‘green lung’ and the attractiveness, integrity and character of villages and towns.”
A letter to residents from the city council’s planning department stresses that the plan is at an early stage and will have to go through revisions, and examination by an inspector, before it can be adopted.
It says: “As the plan progresses it will be necessary to make choices and bring forward specific allocations. At that stage more detail will be provided with policy wording, including detailed development requirements.
“This could include consideration of the need for supporting infrastructure such as schools, roads and transport.”
The proposals can be viewed online at leeds.gov.uk/siteallocations; the Development Enquiry Centre or at The Leonardo Building, 2 Rossington St, Leeds (between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday except Wednesdays, which are 10am to 5pm), as well as all local libraries and one-stop centres.
The consultation ends at 5pm on July 2. Comments can be made at leeds.gov.uk/siteallocations or call (0113) 247 8092.