A bus full of objectors bitterly opposed to the building of 800 new homes in their town have been left “disappointed” after planning chiefs agreed to the development in principle.
Dozens of people from Wetherby were ferried into Leeds city centre by coach to show their disapproval for the scheme at a plans panel meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Although councillors praised objectors for their community spirit and manners during the two-and-a-half hour meeting, they voted to give the firm Taylor Wimpey permission to develop the area, located on the north-west edge of Wetherby.
However, the finer details of the scheme, including the types of homes and the location of an access road linking the site to York Road, must be brought back before councillors before any building work can start.
Objectors’ concerns centred around a lack of amenities to cope with the extra people living in the town, and the junction of the access road which they say is in the wrong place and could become an accident blackspot.
And some panel members were concerned about a lack of public transport infrastructure, which they feared undermined Leeds City Council’s green ambitions.
Coun Dan Cohen, who voted against the proposals, said: “If this site is going to require one-and-a-half cars per dwelling, that is a disaster.
“At the moment, this isn’t a sustainable development because certain conditions haven’t been met. We shouldn’t be approving things in any form until they have.”
Taylor Wimpey representative Mark Johnson said the company was investing around £10m into infrastructure, which includes the possible building of a school for local children.
He also said a Hopper bus would run regular services from the estate.
Coun Peter Gruen praised the objectors, in sentiments echoed by others at the meeting. He also expressed concerns about a lack of guarantees from Taylor Wimpey about parts of the scheme.
But he added planning permission should be given.
This was provided no work takes place before individual parts of the scheme are agreed by the plans panel.
“I’m really amazed by the fact that the community in Wetherby can get so many people together, so quickly, to be here today,” he said.
“It’s exemplary for any other community, I think.
“Ten years is a very long time for any community to put up with the kind of disturbance that comes with this kind of development. But the site has been allocated for development.”
Councillors voted eight to four in favour of approval.
Reacting to the decision, Wetherby councillor Alan Lamb, who’d helped organise travel for objectors, said: “It is disappointing.
“In an ideal world, the site would never have been allocated for development in the first place as it has been, but that is the reality.
“I am encouraged that councillors took our concerns seriously. There is a long way to go before a shovel goes into the ground.
“It is heartwarming to see the community spirit here today. So many people have helped shape the debate.”
Former town mayor Coun Harry Chapman was unhappy with the result but said he did take heart from the praise objectors had received.
“Wetherby is a very strong community,” he said. “That’s been proved today.
“We’ve so many societies and groups. I’ve lived there for 30 years and I’ve loved it from day one.”