1 June 2024

Wedding venue planning application, Fleet Lane

Planning application 22/07648/FU

At its Meeting on 13 May 2024 the Steering Committee of the Oulton and Woodlesford Neighbourhood Forum resolved to STRONGLY SUPPORT this application on the grounds that it complies with the provisions of the Oulton the Woodlesford Neighbourhood Plan ("Made" December 2021).

Greatly enhancing the local area, not only removing substantial blight, the proposed development significantly improves the green environment, brings considerable new employment, new economic opportunities and important leisure and recreational facilities.

In particular, references in the Plan relevant to this site are:

Key Objectives

1. To encourage development of all forms that is sustainable in terms of its impact upon

the natural and built environments, the community and the local economy

3. To develop new facilities for the community that meet currently un-met needs and that are run for and serve the local community

5. To maintain and develop our highly prized green infrastructure assets, including parklands and the canal/river corridor


BE1 New business and employment development

Appropriate proposals which encourage the development of a local visitor/tourism economy, particularly in the Aire and Calder Navigation/River Aire Corridor, are welcomed

It is understood that the Council is, in our opinion, wrongly minded to refuse this application as the, outdated, core strategy designates the Wharf for continued industrial use. No such use, either for oil or aggregates, is economically viable nor desirable. While the Council recognise this, there appears to be no mechanism to update their strategy to reflect the reality, nor any recommendation to Panel to consider approval due to changed circumstances not reflected in core strategy.

The Council have established an inland port for aggregates and approved another port near to this site, close to the motorway, that render this site redundant. Furthermore, it is recognised that the site is inappropriate for high volume aggregate use due to the unsuitability of the local road network for HGVs, and furthermore, the Council’s Leeds Local Plan 2040 Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report specifically disregards this minor site entirely when considering aggregate wharfs, not even calculating theoretical usage volumes.

It is also understood that the Council's consultees have reservations regarding:

Loss of employment – The site currently offers no employment. The scheme provides great opportunities for local employment, creating a significant number of jobs. The Council do not recognise jobs within the leisure industry as employment. As such, there is no loss of employment as stated, the opposite is true.

Impact on Green Belt – The site is currently a brown field industrial eyesore. Any use for aggregates would only serve to increase the blight on the surrounding green environment. The proposed development will be a vast visual improvement on the previous oil depot and current eyesore. The owners have already spent a considerable amount to decontaminate the land, demonstrating their commitment, and the proposal returns much of the site to green space for public use.

Protected Wharf – Although previously designated, plans have been superseded and new more suitable facilities established and approved. Clearly the wharf was not viable as an oil depot and is equally not viable for aggregate use, as concluded by the Council’s own report. Any enforced use of the wharf for aggregates would be to the great detriment of the residents of Oulton due to the high (est >180pd) number of vehicle (HGV) movements required to be economically viable. We believe the aggregate business at Knostrop Wharf inland port is only viable due to subsidies, something the Council have not refuted when asked.

“As a commercial waterway, it will never be financially self-supporting and will always need financial assistance, as private investment is not going to be able to achieve the required levels of returns given the relatively low margins associated with aggregates. However, what it can deliver in environmental gains is massive and should not be underestimated. Grant money will be required and the use of public funds is considered essential to ensure this long-term asset is able to be delivered.”

Ref: WYCA CA1611 21 December 2022

The Forum considers that this proposal would be a high quality asset to the area, which should be welcomed by the Council.