Minutes of the Scarcroft Village Development Working Group meeting
8pm 6th January 2014
1. Process so Far
Cllr Middleton gave an overview of the agenda, outlined what format the meeting would follow, and explained the background to the working group. The agenda would be accompanied by a series of slides (attached to these minutes).
The village had not had a design statement unlike some neighbouring villages, so the group had started from a blank canvas. A core group had been established with sub groups covering Communications, Historic Sites and Sites to be Protected, and another group had looked at all potential development land within Scarcroft and made assessments of these sites.
The Parish Council (PC) had looked at the assessments, and the results of the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) survey to all residents, and recommended to our Leeds City Elected Councillors and Andrew Birkbeck the Localism Officer (9 Oct 2012) that brown field sites be prioritised within the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA). In addition they included Castle Mona, Mickey’s field and the Quarry site off Syke Lane as part of the allocation (where permission had already been granted or applications had been submitted for consideration). The site known as the NPower or YEB site was put forward as a ‘Green’ site (as it was the preferred site as identified in both the site assessment process and the village survey) and Wood Farm was put forward as an ‘Amber’ site (representing the second preferred brown field site).
Under the SHLAA by Leeds City Council (LCC) Planners, no ‘housing only’ sites were allocated to Scarcroft, with all sites being ‘sifted out’ in the initial SHLAA process., The only site designated by LCC was the NPower site, which was designated as ‘mixed use/industrial’.
A questionnaire was issued to all households in the village, of which over 20% responded. A SHLAA information event was held in June 2013, explaining the ‘sifting out process’ and the only site allocated in Scarcroft for potential development.
LCC agreed the Neighbourhood Plan designated area in August 2013
Most of the work had been done to date by volunteers (via the NP committee and wider membership), and as a result, the Parish council had not had to spend much money on the Neighbourhood Development Plan so far.
2. Vision for Scarcroft
Cllr Middleton expanded on the information on the slide, explained that one of the results of the questionnaire was that residents wanted to create a ‘heart of the village’ and had aspirations to improve community spirit. She outlined that some areas of the NP such as the economic policy had yet to be written, and asked if anyone had experience of such things and would like to volunteer to help.
Q Would the PC welcome sponsorship of someone to write the economic plan?
A Cllr Middleton responded that it would depend where the sponsorship came from, as the PC would not want to skew the contents of the plan by the input of someone who could be considered to have vested interests, albeit how well meaning. It is important that the plan is developed to be an independent document. However, the suggestion of individual sponsorship might be more appropriate for other village ventures and could be pursued with the Parish Council.
Cllr Middleton read the aims of the NP from the slide, there were no comments or questions about these.
· Protection of Open Space and Historic Sites: this policy supports the Conservation Plan. There were no comments or questions.
· Open Spaces of Strategic Importance: there were no comments or questions.
· Protection and Enhancement of Biodiversity: there were no comments or questions.
· Housing Policies for land allocated under the SHLAA for mixed use:
Q As a proportion of the space available, what is currently used by NPower and is considered to be brownfield land?
A Cllr Middleton responded that she did not know the exact site size, but would find out and respond.
· Affordable Housing
Q How many houses are you talking about?
A PC would not know this until a planning application is submitted.
Q From a developer’s point of view, what number of houses would make development of the site viable?
A Cllr Middleton responded that the Development Group had originally suggested 50 houses, but had been made aware that this was not viable. Cllr Middleton responded that we would be more likely to get a much larger number, but until an application is submitted and a developer puts forward proposals we don’t really know .
Comment from the floor The affordable housing should be restricted to people from Scarcroft.
Q Would someone who lived on Ling Lane be able to have an affordable house?
A Cllr Middleton responded that they would have to be on the LCC housing needs register to rent, but said she would check this when a Planning Officer was allocated to support the Scarcroft NP process.
Q Would our children/families have priority?
A Cllr Middleton said she would have to check this with LCC, although that is one of the intentions in the draft criteria for affordable housing.
Comment from the floor – How it works in Thorner is that young people who have lived in Thorner can buy an affordable house on an assisted purchase basis, they can buy up to 75% of the property, with a housing association owning 25%.
Cllr Middleton said she would have to check how such criteria could apply to Scarcroft’s young people.
Q If neighbouring villages are to be included in eligibility criteria, would this include Shadwell?
A This would need to be discussed, and a method for assessing eligibility agreed, maybe restrict to people within a certain radius of Scarcroft – this needs to be agreed with LCC Planners.
· Design Quality Policy
There were no comments or questions.
· Residential Density
Q Is the PC in favour of building within larger gardens?
A No, as the survey of residents showed that they did not want this.
· Sustainable Buildings Statement
There were no comments or questions.
· Local Economy
No policy written on this yet.
· Retail Policy
Q Is there any application to make Woodlands a listed building?
A Not that the PC were aware of, but it is within the Conservation Area, and also within the grounds of a listed building.
Q Is there any potential to make Woodlands a residential rather than a retail development?
A This would be a matter for a developer to bring forward.
Q How does the ‘retail’ site compare in size to the site at Collingham?
A PC did not know
5. Next Steps
Cllr Middleton asked residents to consider the draft NP, and to make comments and suggestions, but not just to say that they didn’t like something – rather to make constructive suggestions of amendments to text or additions to the document .
Q Can we suggest what radius of Scarcroft we would like to be considered for affordable housing?
Q We have only talked about the NPower site, what about Wood Farm?
A SHLAA outcome only referenced the NPower site, but there is no reason why Wood Farm or any other site could not be put forward for development. Wood Farm was not included in the NP as LCC had not listed it in the SHLAA outcome and residents of Scarcroft stated in the survey that ideally they would prefer no further housing in Scarcoft. However, the policies in the NP would apply to any significant housing site, so would equally apply to an application on Wood Farm, should one be submitted in the future.
Q From what point might any radius be taken for affordable housing?
A Cllr Middleton said that she would need to go back to LCC and find out more about criteria and any precedents. Ward Councillor Robinson agreed to check with LCC about precedent.
Cllr Middleton then asked if anyone wished to raise any issues that had not already been covered.
Alex Jackson, owner of Wood Farm, outlined his proposals for development of Wood Farm. He thinks that they would meet the criteria in the NP, but said he was concerned that there had been communication with him. He says he will put in a planning application, but had not done so since July when he first wrote to the PC, as he had been busy.
Q Is there any reason why the Wood Farm site can’t be put in the NP?
A As Wood Farm had already been sifted out of the SHLAA by LCC, to put Wood Farm in the NDP would go against the wishes of residents expressed in the questionnaire. However, this doesn’t stop an application being submitted to LCC for the development of the site. In addition, should an application be made which met the criteria in the NP then although the Chair couldn’t speak on behalf of the Parish Council it would be likely that elements of a scheme supporting quality affordable mews type housing, wildlife areas, and a farm shop would be received favourably. The NP had included many elements which had been raised by Mr Jackson – particularly in the village survey, where considerable support had been given to a farm shop and quality nature areas – these elements had then been incorporated into the NP policies.
Q Why accept the NPower site and not Wood Farm?
A LCC planners had considered all sites across Leeds and had made decisions on the initial SHLAA sites. The NPower site contained a significant listed building and because there were offices there already it was a ‘brown field’ site. Ward Councillor Robinson explained the process re the LCC SHLAA and the LCC planning and housing allocation.
Cllr Middleton asked for comments and suggestions to be made to her by 20th January, and said that any amendments would be incorporated into the document by 3rd February. However, a caveat was added that all comments would be considered but as it is impossible to keep everyone happy in a planning process, all comments and amendments would not necessarily be accommodated but the committee would do all they could to ensure the NP represented the views of the village majority.