Aireborough is facing a “free-for-all greenbelt landgrab” after a government inspector’s decision to uphold housing targets for Leeds, it is being claimed.

The campaign group Ward – Wharfedale and Airedale Review Development – says the decision to uphold the 70,000 housing target is “extremely disappointing.”

Campaign group chairman Dr David Ingham spoke out after the inspector attended a Leeds Core Strategy session in Leeds.

Ward had asked him to find the Core Strategy unsound – claiming that the council itself no longer thought the 70,000 target was achievable.

After the session in Leeds Dr Ingham warned about the consequences of the inspector’s decision.

“What it means, if upheld, is a huge free-for-all, greenbelt landgrab from developers because of the five year land supply rule – an absolute disaster for the city of Leeds,” he said.

In a submission to the inspector Ward said a considerable amount of greenfield and greenbelt land would have to be allocated to meet the five year land supply.

It says: “It is obvious Leeds will have problems in ensuring sufficient land and money is available to meet infrastructure needs in terms of school provision and transport needs even before the need for doctors, dentists and health workers is considered. Sticking to ministerial terms of reference under the proposed current Core Strategy the necessary reforms to infrastructure are financially unrealistic." 

It adds: “Ward considers that the Leeds Core Strategy is unsound, not fit for purpose, is not based on objective factual evidence (Census figures) but is a largely hypothetical and aspirational figure which cannot be considered to be based on hard data. Ward therefore hopes that the Core Strategy will be rejected as unsound by the Inspectorate, on the grounds that Leeds has miscalculated its 70,000 Core Strategy target and now recognises it is simply unattainable.”

The Core Strategy is the main document setting out the strategic level Policies and Vision to guide the overall future for Leeds - planning for the regeneration and growth of the area over 15 years. It was submitted to the Secretary of State in April last year for examination by an independent planning inspector.