CAMPAIGNERS are claiming victory after government inspectors came down on the side of protecting the greenbelt in Leeds.

Notes issued by planning inspectors after a public hearing into the city's site allocations plan say the designation of "broad locations" should no longer be used.

Leeds City Council had said the category had been introduced to protect green belt land from the threat of development. But campaigners argued that the new classification put areas of green belt at risk.

The inspectors have indicated that all broad location sites should be removed from the plan and returned to green belt.

Rawdon Parish Council said: "This effectively overrules Leeds City Council’s proposal to treat local Greenbelt as ‘Broad Locations’ which would have earmarked it for future development."

Neil Hunt, Chairman of Rawdon Neighbourhood Plan, said “This is excellent news for Rawdon. The Inspectors’ initial notes fully reflect the views expressed by Rawdon Parish Council in our submissions."

The news has been welcomed by Horsforth's three ward councillors.

Cllr Dawn Collins said: "This is brilliant news for Horsforth and Rawdon. This proposal would have had a significant impact on existing residents in my ward and in my view was always totally inappropriate. It would have led to more congestion and placed a heavy burden on all facilities within Horsforth and Rawdon."

Cllr Jonathon Taylor said: "It is a significant victory for all who have opposed development on our Green Belt. Although we must remain vigilant as individual sites have not yet been reported on, the hard work and dedication by community groups and activists, your elected representatives on the City and Town Councils and everyone who wrote in from our area has contributed to sending a message to the ruling Administration that our Green Belt is off limits."

Cllr Jackie Shemilt said: "We have opposed this site since it was first suggested by the Administration and this will come as a significant relief to the thousands of residents who joined us in the campaign against this site. One note of caution would be that these are interim views but clearly it is still excellent news."

Briony Sloan, of Rawdon Greenbelt Action Group, The Greenbelt Guard, described the notes as "the best news for Rawdon and Horsforth."

She said: "The Government Inspectors want to save our Green Belt. They have clearly stated to Leeds City Council that they are only to remove the limited areas of Green Belt where there really is no other justifiable alternative."

She stressed: "The injustice that was befalling our area was shocking."

Nigel Wilson, Nether Yeadon Conservation Area said: "Development should be about building communities, not just dumping houses for the maximum profit for a few people."

A statement from Leeds City Council said Government inspectors were supporting council plans for green belt housing protection in Leeds

It said: "Green belt areas of Leeds earmarked for possible future housing development are set to be fully protected following an initial view given by government planning inspectors."

It added: "The Site Allocations Plan sets out locations for up to 66,000 new homes in Leeds by 2028, as set down by the Core Strategy implemented in 2014. The council’s proposal to be considered by the inspectors was for 33 of the green belt sites identified for possible housing to remain in the green belt as Broad Locations.

"The inspectors’ initial view is that this designation is not required as they suggest the sites remain protected as green belt and will not now be considered for future development, with the council not needing to fully meet the housing targets set down by the Core Strategy.

"Instead the inspectors have suggested that the council only needs to provide for housing needs up to 2023."