Aspiring Communities, the organisation behind the controversial plans for the Ice Pak site in Beeston, have issued a statement about the recent decision of the Council’s Plans Panel.
Aspiring Communities appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in November because Leeds City Council had failed to make a decision on their application within a reasonable time. Their plans for the site include a sports hall and prayer room as well as parking on two levels.
We have previously reported here on South Leeds Life that the panel approved a report from planning officers setting out why they had felt unable to recommend approving the planning application. In that report they cited Aspiring Communities’ failure to answer questions about the use of the building.
In the statement from Aspiring Communities they say:
“Aspiring communities fundamentally disagrees with this assertion by the officers of Leeds City Council. Not only do we disagree with this but we took expert planning barrister’s opinion on this very matter in June 2015 and that opinion based on the exchange of correspondence between aspiring communities and its representatives and officers of Leeds City Council, was that Aspiring Communities had gone beyond what was necessary to address the concerns raised by officers.
“Officers at Leeds City Council were made aware of that advice, but for whatever reason, only known to them, they failed to include it in the report to the plans panel. Aspiring Communities therefore questions whether members of the panel were made aware of all the facts surrounding the case before they came to their decision?
“Those interested in this case should also be aware that Aspiring Communities made a separate complaint about the handling of this application to which (at Stage 2) the officers charged with responding have failed to do so now for over 5 months.
“Aspiring Communities welcomes the opportunity to put the full facts before an independent Inspector, and the handling of the application before the local government ombudsman and potentially the Royal Town Planning Institute. Whatever decision is finally taken should be made in a less charged atmosphere than that surrounding the report to the plans panel.”
Aspiring Communities plans are opposed by Beeston Community Forum, Save Our Beeston, the three ward Councillors for Beeston & Holbeck and local MP Hilary Benn.
No date has been set for the Planning Inspector’s hearing, but it is understood that a date is likely to be announced next month.