Valley Road travellers’ site proposal

Below is my statement that will be presented at the public meeting regarding the proposed change of use for the land at Valley Road.

Letter from Ed Balls MP for Morley and Outwood for the attention of local residents attending the public meeting on Monday 12th May regarding the proposed travellers’ site on land off Valley Road in Morley

I’ve been contacted by a great many local residents since the planning application was made for a change of use for the site of the former distribution centre and oil refinery on land of Valley Road in Morley. Thank you to all those who have contacted me directly on this issue – I fully understand local people’s anger and frustration with the proposal from this developer.

Whilst it is clearly important to have adequate provision for travellers’ sites across the city, as this prevents illegal encampments, I have always argued that sites must be in the right places. I believe this is clearly the wrong place for a travellers’ site.

Those who have contacted me to date have made the following points:

  • Most accept the need for increased provision for travellers in the city but dispute the appropriateness of the Valley Road location, given the existing travellers’ site in Cottingley Springs, less than 2 miles away
  • Given an existing local travellers’ site, people feel other areas of the city should also be expected to take their fair share of responsibility for the provision of other sites. In particular, people have asked what work Leeds City Council has done to identify suitable travellers’ sites in other areas of the city which don’t already have an existing site.
  • Concern that any further development of any kind would need to include additional provision to support local services such as GPs and schools
  • Concern that there was no consultation with local Councillors or residents on the issue before the formal planning application was submitted
  • The location of a travellers’ site, in close proximity to Morley’s busy train station is not a good location for an open traveller site

I understand that the developer had, without planning permission, commenced works at the site and the council has issued a temporary stop notice to prevent further works from continuing.

As with all local planning decisions, this is a decision for local Councillors and not for Parliament. A decision will be made by the local authority on the suitability of the site proposed by the developer. I’ve spoken to both Cllr Neil Dawson and Cllr Robert Finnigan about this. Cllr Dawson has advised that he is meeting urgently with planning officers and all parties are strongly objecting to the planning proposal, which has been submitted without any prior discussion with the local council or Councillors.

I will do everything I can to ensure that any residents who contact me have their concerns and worries properly heard during the planning process. I have already written to Leeds’ Director of City Development, Martin Farrington, on behalf of all of those who have contacted me and will happily do so for any others who contact me via my office in Morley.

Parliament is sitting today (Monday 12th May) which is why I am unable to be in Morley this evening. However, in addition to contacting Leeds City Council’s Director of City Development, I will also continue to monitor this issue extremely closely with local Councillors and will, of course, keep local residents who contact me on this issue informed about any further developments.

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Posted May 9th, 2014 by Ed

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