CAMPAIGNERS have launched a fundraising appeal in Horsforth to protect green belt across Leeds.

The Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance wants to mount a legal challenge against proposals to allow development on green field sites. It says 30,000 of the proposed 70,000 new houses in Leeds City Council's long-term housing plans are scheduled to be built on Green Belt and green fields. YGA has enlisted the help of a specialist planning barrister to put forward the legal arguments about the soundness of the Site Allocation Plan. The group says it will ensure that the thousands of objections raised during the public consultations are given their proper hearing during the Government Inspector’s review.

Supporters have been donating to YGA since it was formed in September 2016 but the appeal was officially launched at Horsforth Gala on Saturday. The group has now raised nearly £4,500 in total, with £465 raised on the day and a further £500 following in online donations.

YGA is inviting people to make donations at www.yga.org.uk, and is appealing for a "Golden Donor" – an individual, organisation or business that would make a substantial contribution.

Chairman of YGA, Martin Hughes said: "We recognise that the city needs more housing, but urge them not to be built on the remaining greenspaces which we can all access easily in the areas where we live. Sites such as Kirkstall Forge is a great example of one of many large scale housing developments being built on brownfield. It will accommodate over 1,500 new houses, plus schools, modern offices, workshops, retail and the developers have already put in a new train station too.

"The fundraising purpose of YGA is to encourage the Council to adjust their plans by mounting a formal legal challenge during the independently appointed Government Inspector’s review which is scheduled for autumn 2017. We have now progressed with the appointment of a specialist planning barrister who has taken on the case for the people of Leeds. Given the charitable nature of the case, they have agreed to work at a significantly reduced rate, but the financial costs of preparing and arguing the case require us to raise a target amount of £10,000."

Leeds City Council has stressed that the focus of its strategy is to provide a way for Leeds to develop and grow as a major UK city.

When the consultation was launched in 2015 Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, Councillor Richard Lewis, said: "The plans continue to be underpinned by a focus on brownfield first, protecting our countryside, encouraging regeneration and bringing empty and former homes back into use."

He warned that without the plans Leeds would be vulnerable to speculative, poorly-planned and uncoordinated development.