COUNCIL chiefs are being asked to urgently rethink future housing plans for Aireborough and Wharfedale.

The move follows a review which shows the Leeds area will need 15,000 fewer homes to meet future demand than was originally thought.

Leeds City Council had set a 70,000 target but a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) suggests 55,000 will be required between now and 2033.

That could have major implications for the Site Allocations Plan - a housing blueprint which currently includes big developments for places like Otley, Guiseley and Yeadon.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: "The new figure of 55,000 reflects what we were saying when the council first discussed the Local Development Core Strategy.

"Instead of using a realistic assessment of housing need, the Labour group pushed through an inflated figure for new house building of 70,000-plus.

"This has caused major upset for residents, who face large scale developments in their area with consequent loss of green fields, pressure on services and traffic chaos.

"I am calling on the council to quickly accept the new, more sensible figures and remove the threat to our green fields and open spaces."

MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) also welcomed the reduced target - but said there was still high local demand for more affordable homes.

He said: "This will be welcome news for towns such as Otley and Yeadon - I’ve spoken to many residents concerned that large new developments may change the special character of these historic areas.

“At the same time, there is a serious lack of affordable housing to rent or buy.

"Coalition and Tory governments haven’t done enough to tackle the shortage of affordable homes.

"Private rented property in Otley is expensive, scarce and snapped up very quickly. Many residents tell me we need more social homes at genuinely affordable rents, or houses for local people buying for the first time."

The city council's Executive Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, Councillor Richard Lewis, accepts that the 55,000 figure will probably be accepted as the new new housing target.

He said: "We committed to a review within three years and the latest information and population evidence points to lower and slower growth than originally forecast.

"So it is likely this review will recommend the overall figure for housing need should be reduced to reflect what we know now.

"Once the findings are finalised, the council will need to consider a revised housing requirement as part of the Core Strategy review, the implications for site delivery and phasing for development."

Chair of the SHMA Reference Group, Councillsor Peter Gruen, added: "There is more work to do in finalising the SHMA and the council will need to fully consider its findings.

"Any revised housing figure would then be subject to wider public consultation by the end of the year."

The council's Site Allocations Plan, which releases land for some 66,000 new homes, is now at independent examination stage.