Can Leeds councillors say no to Thorpe Park development tomorrow?

Thorpe Park - the vision

Thorpe Park – the vision

Plans to change the face of a business park on the eastern outskirts of Leeds have been given the thumbs up by council planners – despite the fact that they go against local and national planning policy.

Councillors will discus the planners’ recommendation tomorrow and then vote on the plans to extend the offer at Thorpe Park from mainly office space to include restaurants, hotels, a gym and shops, including a large supermarket.

On the face of it, you’d think that the Leeds City Council planners had sufficient reason to turn the plans down.

For one, Thorpe Park is out of town, and national and local planning policies say that significant retail development should be focused on town and city centres and not draw punters away from them. (for ‘town’ in this case read Garforth, Cross Gates, Seacroft etc)

For two, among those objecting to the plans are the Crown Point and Colton retail parks, plus developers Hammerson, who are set to build the new Victoria Gate shopping complex in Leeds city centre, and John Lewis, the anchor store at Victoria Gate.

Keeping John Lewis and Hammerson sweet is usually a good plan.

Road to nowhere?

Planned new housing in brown, possible route of road in blue

Planned new housing in brown, possible route of road in blue

So why the thumbs up?

Because if they say no, ambitious plans to build up to 6,000 new houses and a £100m+ new dual carriageway in east Leeds would be at risk.

The road – dubbed the East Leeds Orbital Road – is the key. ‘No houses till the road gets built’ is what an important council committee was saying earlier this year.

The trouble is that the road – planned to run from the A58 down to the M1 – ends up going through Thorpe Park. And Thorpe Park’s developers say they can’t afford to build their key part of it unless they’re given permission to extend the uses of their business park.

No permission, no road. No road, no houses.

Throw in the promise of 13,000 jobs and a new park and it feels like the Thorpe Park development being decided by councillors tomorrow is one that can’t be refused.

“Enabling development”

_49382977_homesAnd that’s pretty much what council planning officers are arguing in recommending that approval be given.

What they say is that this isn’t your normal type of development but “enabling development”.

Enabling development?

“Enabling development is development that would be unacceptable in planning terms but for the fact that it brings public benefits at a scale sufficient to justify it being carried out,” they explain in a report prepared for tomorrow’s meeting.

And the public benefits in this case?

“The proposed development is closely linked with the delivery of key infrastructure … crucial in the phasing of the provision of the East Leeds Orbital Road (ELOR) and the provision of approximately 6,000 houses in the East Leeds housing allocation that forms a significant part of the Council’s housing land supply,” says the report.

Once approval is secured tomorrow, the plans will be referred to the Secretary of State for final approval as they affect greenbelt land.

Firmed up plans for the road will follow soon after.

Max and Tilly

Regular readers of this blog (Max and Tilly Saville-Rowe of Chapel Allerton) will be saying to themselves by now: east Leeds? Thorpe Park? why does that ring a bell? weren’t there plans for something like this a couple of years ago? and didn’t it all go a bit pear-shaped?

That was in the past. And the past is history.

All those in favour? All those against? 


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14 Responses to Can Leeds councillors say no to Thorpe Park development tomorrow?

  1. Mike Chitty says:

    Ah infrastructure! We always need more of it don’t we?. Seems we can never have enough! Who always benefits from infrastructure development?

  2. Kirsti cale says:

    This is a fore gone conclusion that the planning will be passed I live on a lovely country lane ( Manston lane) I won’t for much longer because the road widening( mllr) commences at my neighbors house ( my dads) who lived here when the road was a dirt track, we also have a business in cross gates which will also be affected, the cross gates neighborhood group also want us menial people who live at the end of Manston lane to have all the wagon access whilst building the road nearer to our homes as well ( so it doesn’t affect them ) no consultation what so ever has been held with us to discuss access in and out for us, we did speak to the council on Monday 16 th sep and we read the report in full, our conclusion of this is the plans will definitely be passed! Why because it will give the council millions back into there empty pot, Scarborough developments always had the golden ticket where the planning for Thorpe park was concerned, why because without the mllr (which Scarborough will pay for with money released from the sale of land where the super store will go ) the whole of the development on the orbital route can’t commence, and the majority of the land give or take a few acres is owned by the council, doesn’t take a genius to work it out, so no matter who objects this planning will be granted,

    • it all stinks to high heaven .. we know, we live in Scholes and feel exactly the same as you do ,,, but objectons are still going in this morning and some heavy ones too from some very big players ..

  3. Paul Thomas says:

    Mike – Correct! We will always need more infrastructure. And who always benefits? Well, business and the public usually benefit from infrastructure projects. That’s the idea, to aid the movement of people and goods. Or are you implying just business benefits?

    Kirsti – Yes, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that money matters. And if the plans go through, how selfish that would be of the council to put the wider interests of business and the public before you and your dad. If only they put individual concerns first we could all still be living on dirt tracks.

  4. Paul Thomas says:

    As ‘moronic’ as it may sound to you Caroline, we need both regeneration and more homes built.

  5. oludenizdollz says:

    Oh dear some people fall for the growth at any cost line. This is a disgraceful decision by Leeds City Council. As Keith Wakefield stated at presentation by Scarborough Development Group ‘we need to think about the legacy we leave for our children’.
    Destruction of Greenbelt for a monstrosity of a development …..what a legacy, what hypocrisy what a sorry,sorry excuse for Labour Councillors we have.

  6. TomCat says:

    Destruction of Greenbelt, all the Greenbelt is owned by Leeds City Council, Leeds City Council (unfortunately) has always been run by the Labour Councillors. The legacy of this is all the Greenbelt will eventually be sold off for more development monstrosity’s. I totally agree with ‘oludenizdollz’ …..what a legacy, what hypocrisy what a sorry, sorry excuse for Labour Councillors we have.

  7. Paul Thomas says:

    But it’s not the destruction of the greenbelt, is it?

    Nearly half of England’s land is protected: 13% is Green Belt; 30% is ‘special areas of conservation’, ‘sites of special scientific interest’, and ‘areas of outstanding natural beauty’. New national are also being created parks (South Downs is size of London), and to add to the mix are ‘conservation areas’, ‘world heritage sites’, ‘village greens’, ‘special protection areas’, ‘protected-view corridors’, and ‘strategic gaps’.

    And of that 13% specifically greenbelt not all of it is ‘green’ or particularly attractive: 60% of it is given over to intensive farming, the rest encompassing gravel pits, quarries, railway embankments and even parts of Heathrow Airport. Only 10% of the UK is built on, and that includes parks and gardens, and we’d have a 20+ year shortfall in house-building, while increasing numbers of people are crammed on to small plots of brown field land.

    If we put preserving nature in aspic before the interests of people, we’ll be left with a legacy of the sort of overcrowding we thought was a thing of the past, and over-inflated house prices and rents.

  8. TomCat says:

    Mr Thomas, one can tell you are a “debater”; you pluck unsubstantiated figures from nowhere. Open your eyes man. Do your fanciful figures include roads, factories etc. My map shows a much greater percentage than the 10 you mention. You ought to try your hand at politics. I do agree with you on one point – there are far too many people in this small country of ours!

    • Paul Thomas says:


      I can tell you’re a “bullshitter”. One, you hide behind an infantile pseudonym. Two, you try and disprove the estimate land-use figures for UK by reference to “your map”. And lastly, you deliberately twist my warning of possible future overcrowding due lack of house building into your own miserable belief that “there are far too many people” in the country. You ought to try rational thought and argument.

      • tomcat says:

        Someone sounds rattled, I must have been close! Get a grip, your the biggest bullshitter.

      • TomCat says:

        I’m Paul Thomas, I’m co-founder and organiser of The Leeds Salon, public discussion forum. I’m also a regional organiser for the sixth-form Debating Matters competition. Paul Thomas you make yourself sound very important BUT Paul Thomas – you are also bald!

  9. Warren Dillon says:

    This development is against national and local planning policies for out of town developments. Do we ignor them where there are significant gains for the council and developers. You can ague the rights and wrongs of the develpment but if the council can depart from these policies, aimed at protecting both our towns and countryside, when it suits them why have them.

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