WE are writing this joint letter to all Otley residents to express our concerns about the current Hybrid Planning Application (21/01671/OT) for the East of Otley (EoO). Whilst our ward of Danefield is closest to the development, we believe that its effects will be felt across the whole town. Although we are still analysing details, our main concerns are:

• The developers’ February consultation was for 550 homes which has now increased to 700+. The site area has also increased from 50 hectares in the consultation to 57 hectares, threatening to take away Green Belt and impact on football playing fields.

• It is claimed the relief road will reduce peak hour-congestion, but there is no consideration to the increase in daytime traffic or EoO residents driving into town to use amenities in the absence of any proposed shops or community facilities other than a primary school. 700 new homes could add 1,000+ extra cars onto our roads.

• An irreplaceable 47% reduction in biodiversity from the loss of veteran trees, hedgerows (all of East Busk Lane) and habitats with no indication as to how to attain the required 10% biodiversity gain required by Leeds’ policy.

• No clear commitment to provide 35% affordable homes in line with Leeds’ policy or build the types of housing actually needed in Otley or which fit its townscape.

• No commitment to build sustainable homes, which will leave homeowners having to replace gas boilers and do expensive retrofits a decade on from being built.

In February 2020, residents overwhelmingly voted to adopt the Otley Neighbourhood Plan. Its East of Otley policy (MU-1) includes well-considered development principles to measure the development against. Unfortunately, its emphasis on the need for good design, sustainability and fitting in with the town rather than being just another ‘anytown’ development has not been heeded.

This application only seeks full planning permission for phase 1 for the relief road and around 20% of the houses. For the remaining houses, it merely seeks outline permission leaving much that needs public scrutiny to be decided under a ‘reserved matters’ process.

We urge all Otley residents to access the plans via Leeds’ Planning Portal to familiarise themselves with what is proposed and register your objections or comments on specific planning grounds by 16 July. Further helpful information can be accessed via the East of Otley Action Group’s website.

Mick Bradley, Richard Davies and Nigel Francis

Danefield Ward councillors, Otley Town Council