A CROWDFUNDING appeal has been launched to pay for a legal battle to save four areas of green belt in Aireborough.

Local campaigners are trying to raise £40,000 to fight Leeds City Council over its Site Allocation Plan which they say will "delete" the stretches of green space on Ings Lane, Wills Gill, Hollins Hill Guiseley, and Victoria Avenue Yeadon.

The appeal, launched by Aireborough Neighbourhood Development Forum, has already raised more than £9,000 - but organisers are warning that they only have until August 21 to raise the remainder for a judicial review.

Jennifer Kirkby, from ANDF, says the site allocation plan has left Aireborough residents "upset and dismayed" and feeling as though their concerns had been ignored throughout the consultation.

Writing on the forum's website she said: "Residents are rightly concerned about the importance of these sites to the landscape and historic character of the area and the fact they still fulfil the purposes of Green Belt – particularly protecting the countryside, discouraging sprawl, and in separating Guiseley and Menston.

"But, of greater concern, are the sustainability issues of developing these areas, the flooding, traffic congestion and air pollution: especially since Aireborough has already built more than its target share of housing between 2012 and 2017 with little supporting infrastructure. Further, these now ex Green Belt sites are not best suited for the type of housing Aireborough actually does need eg smaller housing for first time buyers and downsizers."

The ANDF has taken legal advice from a barrister to see if there is a case for residents to ask a court for a judicial review.

Ms Kirkby said: "In particular circumstances where it is felt there have been failures and irregularities that have caused ‘substantial prejudice’ to residents a judicial review can be brought within six weeks of the Site Allocation Plan being adopted. This is the only way residents can now bring a challenge – you cannot challenge simply because you do not like the decision.

The legal conclusion is that Aireborough residents do have good grounds to bring such a challenge via a judicial review and that it has reasonable prospects of success.

"The Forum has therefore decided to go ahead with a challenge on behalf of Aireborough residents and now seeks to raise up to £40,000 for the legal fees this will entail. This has to be done by 21st August 2019. The fees are to employ a specialist planning barrister and a firm of solicitors who know the complexity of planning law, are aware of case-law, and have some understanding of the complicated situation in Leeds and Aireborough."

The appeal page can be found at http://www.localgiving.org/appeal/greenbeltlegalfees/ and further enquiries about donating can be directed to Liz Kirkpatrick on aireboroughnp@gmail.com.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: "We recognise that people care deeply about their local area and understand there will always be concerns about any new proposals. However, the government-appointed independent inspectors concluded that the Site Allocations Plan is sound, legally compliant and provides an appropriate basis for planning the city.

"Every area of Leeds is included in sharing the housing requirement and Aireborough is identified for just 3 per cent of the total needed. All sites within the plan are subject to the same thorough mitigation measures, including for flood alleviation.

"Inspectors also noted that site selection requirements were justified and had considered appropriate mitigations, including flood alleviation. They confirmed they approved of the approach to Green Belt sites, which included impact assessments."

The council says the Site Allocations Plan has been subject to a lengthy consultation, engagement and examination process in front of independently appointed inspectors. The inspectors’ report, published on June 7, found the SAP to be sound and said it satisfied the legal requirements.