The High Court has ordered that all Green Belt allocations in the Leeds Site Allocations Plan (SAP) are to be remitted back for redetermination by the Secretary of State, following its earlier findings that there were a number of errors of law in the process leading to the SAP's adoption.
The judgements have wide reaching implications, not only for Green Belt allocations, but for housing land supply in the Leeds area in general.
Housing land supply and Green Belt allocations
Leeds City Council has a longstanding and well documented difficulty demonstrating that it has a five year supply of deliverable housing land, not least because two thirds of its area is designated as Green Belt.
The remittal of all Green Belt allocations for reconsideration will cause further delay to the Council's ability to demonstrate a sufficient housing land supply. In the meantime, developers and landowners will continue to be faced with the prospect of promoting sites through applications and appeals against an uncertain and ever changing planning policy context. That will create opportunities for some sites, but represents a considerable barrier (if not prohibition) to the development of the 12,481 dwellings that were initially allocated in the draft SAP for construction in the Green Belt. The Green Belt site allocations will remain part of the Green Belt until a further allocations document is adopted, and that will apply to all mixed use allocations as well as the residential allocations.
Whether Leeds City Council will promote the same Green Belt sites for release on remittal, but with further justification and explanation, remains to be seen.
What is clear, is that Leeds City Council will not have an adopted Local Plan in place demonstrating a 5 year housing land supply for a considerable period of time. With the Government's latest Planning White Paper proposing a new nationally determined housing requirement, the difficulty of promoting and justifying the release of Green Belt sites against an ever changing housing land requirement is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.