LEEDS has been accused of performing “planning by loophole” after a controversial decision on a 152-homes scheme for Horsforth Campus.

The leader of the Opposition on Leeds City Council has levelled the accusation against the ruling administration.

Speaking at the Development Plan Panel meeting this month, Councillor Andrew Carter said a planning loophole had been exploited to use land returned to the greenbelt by a High-Court Judge for development purposes.

The Horsforth campus site of the Leeds City College adjacent to the Ring Road was one of 37 sites pushed back into the greenbelt by Mrs Justice Lieven in her judgement following a challenge to the council’s Site Allocations Plan earlier in the year.

Plans for 152 ‘affordable’ homes on the former college site were accepted in principle by city planners on October 1. But the developer has been told to redesign the scheme.

Councillor Andrew Carter, Leader of the Conservative Group, said: “We have tried to work with the administration in a cross-party fashion on a number of planning matters. Indeed our response to Government on the Planning White Paper may say a number of similar things.

“But it is one of our red lines that we protect the green belt in and around Leeds. I have said time and time again that the Leeds housing number was too high and that too many greenbelt sites had been allocated for development.

“It was a vindication of this view when judgement on these sites was handed down by a High Court Judge to place them back in the greenbelt.

“And now to use an apparent loophole to circumvent that decision and open up a site for development is not something we want to be party to, and it underlines our fears over the whole planning debate in this city.

“It grows clearer by the day that the green belt is not safe in the hands of the ruling administration.”

A report to Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel recommended approval of the affordable homes scheme from social housing provider Stonewater.

The report said: “The proposed development will make a weighty contribution to meeting the identified affordable housing need. Unusually, the development is 100% affordable housing and will, therefore, contribute a very significant 152 affordable dwellings to the supply.”

It added: “The site is not considered to fulfil an important Green Belt function - it is surrounded by major roads on two sides and on the third side the site abuts the cemetery and built up parts of Horsforth.”

The report said the site met the exceptions test for development in part of the green belt and that special circumstances existed for part of the site.