Hundreds of people turned out to discuss fears that Otley is in danger of turning into “just another suburb”.
The public meeting was held by Otley Development Disgrace (ODD) at the Methodist Church on Monday.
The campaign group organised the event as part of its bid to have the future housing allocation that has been set out for Otley, in the Local Development Framework, revised.
ODD claims the current plans would see the town jump in size by a fifth, leading to unsustainable pressure being placed on schools, health services and roads.
Spokesman Alastair Watson told the meeting that people should be worried about the 1,177 additional houses earmarked for Otley as there were “no corresponding improvements proposed to our already overloaded infrastructure”.
The chairman of the Wharfedale & Airedale Review Development (Ward) network, David Ingham, meanwhile described how overdevelopment along the A65 corridor had already had “severe consequences” for communities like Guiseley.
And he stressed the need for more empty brownfield – previously developed – sites to be used for housing, instead of green fields.
Turning to the likely impact in Otley, ODD spokesman John Buck said the 20 per cent rise in population would:
- place an intolerable burden on already oversubscribed local schools, GP surgeries and dentists
- lead to the loss of valuable green space while derelict sites remained as eyesores
- create parking and traffic problems while failing to deliver significant affordable housing.
Otley Town and ward Councillor Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon), who attended, said: “The large turnout clearly indicates that proposals for development in Otley are causing some concern.
“The Rumplecroft and East of Otley developments were approved a long time ago when Otley’s employment situation was very different.
“Since then we have lost large employers such as Garnett’s, Jeffries and the hospital, which these developments were supposed to support. Leeds City Council’s lack of an Environmental Cumulative Impact Policy completely fails to recognise this, and I fear Otley is increasingly being seen as a commuter town.”
Resident Caroline Davis, of Moor Drive, said: “As a long-standing Otley resident I feel that we have not had a proper opportunity to direct any of this development in a meaningful manner.
“My major concern is that there are too many concessions made to developers to maximise their profits by allowing so much development to go ahead on green fields when there is so many derelict, brownfield sites around.
“This is totally disgraceful and I feel the elected Government is to blame by relaxing planning restrictions and trying to build our way out of a recession.
“I would like Leeds City Council together with MP Greg Mulholland to hold a public meeting in Otley to look at these site allocations, potential numbers and infrastructure and allow our views to be heard.”
Monday’s meeting also heard that ODD wants a formal impact assessment to be carried out on the combined effect of all the proposed development sites on Otley’s services.