To receive and consider the report of the Area Leader
Report to follow
The report of the Area Leader provided background information on the proposals for development at Sugar Hill Close and Wordsworth Drive Estate in Oulton. Concern to these proposals had been raised by the local community and the Chair had agreed that this item should be considered and discussed by the Community Committee.
Martin Dean, Area Leader presented the report. Victoria Hinchliff Walker, South Team Leader, Planning Services and Gerard Tinsdale, Head of Housing Management, South and Inner East Leeds were also in attendance.
It was reported that there were 71 houses on the estate and there had been a planning application for the demolition and replacement of these properties. These properties were currently in private ownership and had previously been under the ownership of British Coal.
In relation to this, the Council as a whole had differing roles which included the determination of the planning application; support from Housing – should tenants be in need of rehousing; and for elected representatives to listen to the views of the residents affected and the wider local community.
The Committee heard From Cindy Readman a local resident of Wordsworth Drive. She stated there were still 13 families from the ex-mining community who were assured to be given new tenancies. This left 57 families at the threat of an 8 week eviction notice, most of those who had lived there for over 10 years. The properties proposed under the submitted application would not be affordable for existing residents and neither would similar properties elsewhere in the area.
Mrs Readman felt that the application could be refused due to heritage aspects and both the 20th Century Society and English Heritage had shown an interest to support this. The landlord of the properties had claimed the properties were coming to the end of their life and it was not affordable to renovate them but local residents felt that neglect from the landlord had led to deterioration of the properties.
Further issues highlighted included the following:
· The estate had a diverse community including residents from the BEM and LGBT communities.
· Most of the residents were employed in low paid jobs and private sector rents would not be affordable.
· Housing Leeds had indicated that residents could face waits of up to 72 weeks for a three bedroom house and that was not guaranteed to be in this area.
Further to Members comments and questions, the following was discussed:
· Similar styles of housing in other parts of Outer South Leeds had been modified to bring them to a suitable standard.
· The Planning application could only be judged on material planning considerations.
· Councillor Golton informed the meeting of the Council’s ambition to provide more social housing and that under new powers could purchase properties to contribute towards this. He also reported that the figures provided by the current owner to renovate the properties was based on doing these to the highest possible specification and could be done to a lower and acceptable specification. He suggested that the Committee should recommend that the Executive Member for Communities to consider these options.
· Councillor Bruce reported that the Executive Member had been contacted regarding the possibility of purchasing these properties. She also suggested that the Committee could submit an objection to the planning application.
· Whether the application could be refused for planning reasons following guidance within the National Planning Policy Framework.
· Planning permission was not required to demolish the properties.
· There had currently been over 100 objections to the planning application. These were based on material planning considerations which included sustainability, heritage, design and ecology issues.
· As part of the planning process an equality impact survey had been sent to all residents with regard to protected characteristics.
· At this stage it was not possible to assess the priority needs of tenants for rehousing due to the uncertainty of their situation. Houses in this area could take up to three years to become available. Housing outside the area could be provided much earlier.
· Councillor Golton submitted a recommendation for the Committee to contact the Executive Member regarding the purchase and refurbishment of the properties.
1. That clarification be requested from Housing Leeds with regard to applications made by residents
2. That a formal response be sought from Planning following the equality impact survey
3. That an objection to the application be submitted to the Chief Planning Officer on behalf of the Community Committee
4. That the Executive Member for Communities, Councillor Debra Coupar, to consider inclusion of the intended purchase and refurbishment of the seventy homes on the estate as part of the 300 new Council homes target in the next tranche of proposals, (following those already approved at the November Executive Board), and for Councillor Coupar to formally write to the current landowner, Pemberstone Estates, informing them of that intent and to invite them to discuss how that purchase may be achieved.