Welcome to the Garforth Plan Website......
The Garforth Neighbourhood Planning Forum ( GNPF )
The Localism Act of 2011 gave local communities( without a parish council ) the right to form a Neighbourhood Planning Forum which could help shape and plan their neighbourhood. Development once agreed cannot be stopped, but by working with the local council and residents Neighbourhood Planning Forums can design development to the benefit of the community by producing a local Neighbourhood Plan.
The Council’s Target
Governments past and present have stated the need for a substantial house building programme. Leeds City Council has set a target of building over 70,000 dwellings between 2012 and 2028 and states that this level of housing growth is greater than any other authority in England. The city was divided into 11 areas, each with a similar housing allocation .
Effect on Garforth
When the Council’s Site Allocation Plan was produced in the summer of 2013 we discovered that Garforth had been placed in the Outer South East area of the city and had been allocated a target of 3,534 new dwellings. Almost all of the sites identified for possible housing were in the Green Belt around Garforth. The Council’s Core Strategy states that majority of growth is focussed on the urban areas and major settlements ( ie Garforth ) as these are regarded as sustainable locations because infrastructure and services are already established. This Site Allocation Plan was in the process of undergoing a public consultation and despite only two to three weeks remaining of the consultation process individual Garforth residents managed to submit over 3,000 comments
Establishment of Garforth NPF
A group of concerned residents held a meeting with electoral representatives and given the opportunity, formed a Neighbourhood Planning Forum with the assistance of the Leeds City Council’s Planning department. Posters and banners were distributed around Garforth, meetings held and an acting steering group formed to apply for ‘Designation’ status ( a formal requirement ).
This process took several months , meeting with residents who signed up as Forum members to support the work of the GNPF. At the first AGM members signed up to the sub groups formed to look into issues of concern identified by residents during our consultations : housing sites, healthcare, education, leisure and greenspace, traffic congestion and transport, retail and employment ,flooding ( the existing flood group was invited to participate ). Other issues eg litter are not planning issues and cannot be included in the neighbourhood plan, however a group was formed to look into the possible advantages / disadvantages of having a Parish council who also deal with many non planning issues. We were finally granted ‘designation status’ in November 2014
As a ‘designated Neighbourhood Planning Forum we applied for a grant which we have used to publicised our events and has enabled us to employ the services of David Gluck, an independent planning consultant to help us through the process. David also supports several other planning groups within the Leeds area.
In January 2015 The Council produced a revised Site Allocations Plan. Most of the contentious sites originally proposed for consultation surrounding Garforth had been removed and 83% of the remaining housing target for the Outer South East had been proposed for the land behind the water tower on Garforth Cliff ( 2,300 houses ). This represents a 41% increase in housing numbers in Garforth. This site has been scheduled to be developed in the first phase of development (within five years).
After several more months whilst minor alterations were made city wide this revised Site Allocations Plan was submitted for public consultation ( Sept/Nov 15 ). Following the close of the consultation , all the responses are being collated by the Planning department, possible adjustments made and then will be put to a Public Examination where a Planning Inspector will decide whether to accept all the proposed sites with or without further adjustments.
As a Forum , along with many other Neighbourhood Planning Forums and Parish Councils in Leeds we will have an opportunity to discuss our response to the consultation document. A decision is unlikely to be made until 2017.
Garforth Neighbourhood Plan
In the meantime GNPF is progressing with our Neighbourhood Plan which then has to be submitted to the Leeds City Council and if accepted will be put to a referendum in Garforth. If this plan is accepted the Planning Department will endeavour to incorporate these policies into decisions when granting planning permission to developers.
We hope to produce our plan as soon as is possible along with some other groups who are already submitting their plans so that our responses to the consultation will carry more weight with the Inspector if we have a plan in place .
The plan is produced by writing policies to address the concerns / comments made by Garforth residents in response to the household survey that we delivered to every house in Garforth in the summer of 2015 . We then held two workshops to identify the topics relevant to a Neighbourhood Plan. A Writing group has been formed and also a Working group to produce the evidence we need to support the proposed policies. If you would like to help please let us know.
Community Infrastructure Levy
Developers have to pay a Community Infrastructure Levey ( CIL ) 25% of which goes to a Parish Council with an adopted plan and 15% without a plan. Unfortunately the CIL money is not payable directly to a NPF but retained by Leeds City Council to be spent in the general area after consultation with interested committees . It has yet to be clarified how much of this CIL will be spent directly in Garforth and how much will be distributed elsewhere in the Outer South East. Historically Garforth has not done too well in this process so GNPF have asked their Parish Council group to progress the setting up of a Parish Council to ensure that Garforth residents can decide how the CIL money will be spent locally.
Anyone living or working in Garforth is eligible to become a member. Of the Garforth Neighbourhood Planning Forum which is a non political voluntary group.