Community leaders in south Leeds have voiced their frustration at the botched local consultation on the City Council’s Site Allocations Plan, and are calling on residents to urgently look at the plan and comment on it before the looming deadline of Monday 16th November (2015).
The Leeds-wide plan has been in process for several years, and will – once completed – form a proposed framework for all development (housing, retail, industrial, greenspace, and more) across the city. Although each development will still need to go through the regular planning processes, the plan will form a crucial fundamental baseline for the city and its communities.
An initial round of public consultation took place in summer 2013 – and this autumn was set aside for a second major round of consultation, on a proposed draft version of the plan. However, community leaders – specifically in the City and Hunslet ward – are speaking out to voice their serious frustrations at the consultation process, and their concerns regarding proposals for the local area.
Indeed, residents of most areas of inner south Leeds (Middleton, Beeston, and Holbeck) might well have come across elements of the plan without realising it: these communities each has a ‘Neighbourhood Plan’, which syncronises with the city-wide plan, so residents there have had several months to comment through those local plans.
But those in the City and Hunslet council ward (particularly Beeston Hill and Hunslet) have had no such opportunity – and are pointing to the inadequacy of one barely-advertised public consultation event in Hunslet last month (that unsurprisingly had almost zero attendance). This event was featured on the Council’s own website, and picked up here on South Leeds Life; and the plans were apparently available to view at a couple of south Leeds libraries.
But Kenny Saunders, chair of the popular Hunslet Carr Residents Association commented:
“We’re not demanding the Earth, but none of us heard anything about this plan – no notification, no letters, nothing. We discovered it by chance at the last minute, and have been trying – and failing – to arrange a meeting to give residents a further opportunity to comment. This was really poor, we’re not happy at all.”
And Pat Jackson, chair of the Hunslet Tenants and Residents Association (TARA), says she also only very recently heard about the plan through the Hunslet Carr group:
“We (the TARA) were completely unaware of the plan, and the consultation event – despite it being on our doorstep. Absolutely nothing was communicated to us. There are some major elements of the plan that we need, as a community, to consider – for example, the proposal of a new Gypsy-Traveller site near to the Tulip Retail Park. To say that the residents of both groups are frustrated is a bit of an understatement.”
And research by South Leeds Life suggests that community leaders in Beeston Hill (also in the City and Hunslet ward, and therefore not part of the Beeston Neighbourhood Plan) seem to be even more in the dark, with almost no-one there even having heard of the plan.
Full details on the plan can be found online here; all input needs to be submitted by 5pm on Monday 16th November 2015.