Leeds City Council has successfully taken action through planning enforcement to put an end to the unauthorised commercial use of a piece of green belt land, thereby resolving a disruptive issue.

Located off Leeds Road in Lofthouse, this land has housed various businesses, including a coach depot, a scaffolding firm, and a stone-cutting operation for several years. The nearby residents have endured persistent problems with noise and fumes. Moreover, concerns were raised about the impact of this 1.8-hectare site on the integrity of the green belt.

Upon discovering that some business activities on the site lacked the necessary planning permissions, the council issued a series of enforcement notices in October of the previous year, intended to put a stop to these unauthorised operations.

Subsequently, the land-owning companies, Marsh Investments Wakefield Limited and Searchagain Limited, filed appeals against these notices. However, a government-appointed independent planning inspector, following a public inquiry, has now rejected these appeals.

As a result, the unauthorised uses of the site, which encompass the coach depot, scaffolding, and stone-cutting activities, must cease by April 13 of the coming year. Legal action may be pursued through the courts if these uses persist. Additionally, several structures, containers, fencing, waste materials, and gates must be cleared from the land.

Two enterprises, namely a car wash and a tyre depot, will be permitted to continue their operations.

During the public inquiry, residents and other concerned parties presented evidence, and a site inspection was conducted last month.

On October 13, the council received confirmation of the appeals being rejected through a letter from the planning inspector. The inspector noted, “Evidence was presented regarding the effects of the various businesses on the living conditions of the nearby residents – this was in relation to the scaffolding, stone working, and coach hire businesses but not specifically in relation to the tyre business when considered alone. There was evidence regarding the unacceptable levels of noise made by the businesses but also evidence in relation to the fumes, and the visual impact on the character and appearance of the area caused by the proximity of the unauthorised developments.”

The letter further stated that the operations at the site were causing “visual and spatial harm” to the openness of the green belt.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said:

“The council takes its responsibilities as a planning authority extremely seriously, with every effort being made to swiftly and effectively investigate potential regulation breaches.

“The issuing of these enforcement notices was a proportionate and expedient measure, and one that was only set in motion after our previous attempts to negotiate a solution to the problems at the site proved unsuccessful.

“Enforcement is often complex and long work. I’m pleased we have enforcement officers in Leeds working diligently on cases like this and I would like to thank them for their work here and across the city.

“We are pleased that the notices have now been upheld by the planning inspector in a decision that will provide some welcome certainty for local residents.”