The Leeds Inspector Gets it Badly Wrong in Requiring a Full Green Belt Review
Recently at Solihill and Reigate and Bansted inspectors have found sound plans sound with partial Green Belt reviews. On both cases the inspectors said there was no need to review sites well away from the urban area and services and in the R&B case the inspector said that unless it was a sustainable urban extension it would be sprawl and the NPPF only presumes for sustainable development and protects the Green Belt purpose of reducing sprawl.
How then can the Leeds inspector propose:
(viii) To undertake a [delete the word selective]review of the Green belt (asset out in Spatial Policy 10) to direct development consistent with the overall strategy,
(v) A [delete selective review of the Green Belt will need to be carried out to accommodate the scale of ]
housing and employment growth identified in …
Exceptionally, sites [delete outside add unrelated] to the Main Urban Area, Major Settlements and Smaller Settlements, Settlement Hierarchy could be considered, where they will be in sustainable locations and are able to provide a full range of local facilities and services and within the context of their Housing Market Characteristic Area, are more appropriate in meeting the spatial objectives of the plan than the alternatives within the Settlement Hierarchy. Otherwise review of the Green Belt will not be considered to ensure that its general extent is maintained.
The sustainable locations test is not the only one and a major error by both Leeds in proposing such a loosely worded policy unrelated to the purposes of Green Belt in the NPPF and to the inspector sadly for making it much worse.
At the very least the policy should add after hierarchy ‘and these benefits outweigh the contribution of the area to Green Belt purposes (NPPF para. 80) sufficient to meet the exceptional circumstances test (NPPF para. 83 ) or else there will be a lot of JRs I imagine.