CAMPAIGNERS across Leeds are celebrating after government inspectors said greenbelt earmarked for thousands of homes should be removed from the threat of development.

Inspectors have identified 36 areas of greenbelt which they say should be removed from Leeds City Council's Site Allocations Plan. The updated advice follows a public inquiry during the summer.

The proposed modifications would protect greenbelt sites in Aireborough earmarked for hundreds of home, as well as land south of the A65 from Horsforth and Rawdon roundabout where hundreds more were planned.

Banksfield Mount in Yeadon is one of the sites set to be taken out of the plan - and this week the move was welcomed by the area's three ward councillors.

Cllr Ryk Downes said: "The document has been a long time coming, and in many ways vindicates our opposition to the council's plan for large scale housing development."

Cllr Sandy Lay added: "The Inspector has agreed with our and local residents views that there was plenty of land available for housing locally and there was no need to remove land from the green belt.

"This is something we have been saying from the start of the process and have raised repeatedly in council. Sadly the council stuck to its view that there should be large scale housing development. Fortunately the Inspector has listened to local people and agreed a more realistic housing target."

Cllr Colin Campbell said: "The main beneficiaries in Yeadon are the residents of the Banksfields and Coppice Woods where the green belt site accessed from Banksfield Mount has been withdrawn, something which could have happened five years ago."

A statement from Leeds City Council says the inspectors have indicated further support for its plan for future housing, green space and development in the city.

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis said: "We are grateful to the inspectors and, subject to a number of Main Modifications, are delighted they have indicated our Site Allocation Plan is sound, especially our approach to housing growth to 2023 and focus on green belt protection.

"We look forward to discussing this key issue at executive board and then the consultation on the proposed modifications as we hopefully move towards the end of this process with a plan adopted to guide future growth in a sustainable way bringing an end to speculative development in Leeds."

Leeds City Council chair of the development plan panel Councillor Peter Gruen said: "The receipt of the inspectors’ view and Main Modifications is a key milestone in moving towards adopting the plan and giving much-needed certainty to communities and investors across the district as to how our city will grow in the future. A sound plan will mean we can demonstrate a five-year land supply and that greatly strengthen our position against speculative and premature development."

The executive meeting on Monday, January 14, will decide whether to put the proposed changes to a six-week public consultation.