Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WONEWS to 80360, or email
Traffic issues and road safety among fears over proposals
Residents in Otley are mobilising to oppose a new housing development on green land north of the river.
More details about Taylor Wimpey’s plans to build more than 100 family homes on fields near Rumple Croft, on the Weston estate, were expected to be unveiled by the developers at Otley Social Club tonight.
But the developer has already come under fire for beginning clearance work before any consultation has been carried out or planning permission sought.
Residents fear building new housing on the plot would create traffic and road safety problems, while placing further strain on Otley’s struggling infrastructure.
Meagill Rise householder Vanessa James has started a Facebook group – Stop Taylor Wimpey Developing North of the Weston Estate – to co-ordinate opposition, and has already attracted 157 supporters, including Otley Town Council leader Councillor John Eveleigh.
She said: “I personally oppose the development – it is immediately behind my house and I do not want to lose the green space I look out onto.
“But I also can see the potential impact on the wider community. Transport will be the biggest concern, as the bridge in Otley is already a bottle-neck, causing congestion on both sides.
“With additional housing here and with several other major building developments also on the horizon, my concern is the already congested roads will not cope. Another concern is that the brown field sites, such as the old hospital, will be left derelict and undeveloped, while the green field site is developed as it will prove more profitable to a developer.
“The development proposes family housing, however the town has already found itself unable to provide school places for all of our children.”
A coach at Weston Lane Junior Sports & Social Club, Vanessa was due to hold a public meeting about the plans at the clubhouse last night.
Since the former green belt land has been earmarked for housing for many years now, Coun Eveleigh believes it will be hard to oppose the scheme outright.
He said: “The application will need to be fully scrutinised, but unless there are specific planning grounds to turn the application down, it is likely to be approved.
“I believe it would be productive for the community’s demands to be articulated in order that the developer can address the concerns, and the planners can ensure specific conditions are applied to meet those concerns.”
Other local politicians, however, say the scheme must be blocked while other brown field sites are available for development.
MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) said: “It is quite unacceptable that Taylor Wimpey have carried out pre-emptive works on this site before they have even consulted with people, never mind applied for, or received, planning permission.
"That shows an arrogance that will not be welcomed and has also been criticised by Leeds City Council's planning department.
“It is completely premature to be seeking to develop this site and I don’t believe the community consultation is at all appropriate at this stage.
"This is green land on the edge of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and should not be built on for the foreseeable future whilst there are brown field sites that could be developed first."
Town Councillor Sandy Lay (Lib Dem, Danefield) said: "We don't know exactly how many houses are being planned here but it's certainly a significant number, more than 100, and that will create serious issues for our infrastructure.
"We have a medieval bridge, which is the only crossing, and we have a real issue with our schools where, even with just the housing we've currently got, we couldn't provide enough places this year.
"We shouldn't be building houses on such a scale before we've sorted out the infrastructure.
"This site is allocated for housing under the Unitary Development Plan, and has been for about 20 years, but the world has moved on. Otley doesn't have the industries it once had and we don't want the place being turned into a dormitory town for Leeds and Harrogate."