CAMPAIGNERS are collaborating with the University of Leeds to design an exemplar development for the areas of green space to the East of Otley.

The plan, from the university and the climate action and sustainability group Otley 2030, is intended to showcase how a sustainable alternative to the current application, which went live last month, could be achieved.

Campaign groups say that little heed has been paid to local people’s calls for an exemplar development, which respects the democratically mandated Neighbourhood Plan or the Climate Emergency declared by all levels of government. They say it now also appears that the consortium behind the development is trying to raise the number of dwellings on the site from the 550 - the number the public were consulted upon - to more than 700.

With the creation of the East of Otley Action Group (, Otley 2030 is not taking an active role in responding to the plans, but says it is involved in creating a sustainable and just future for Otley. “We are very aware that, as well as the climate and biodiversity crises that affect the people of this town, there is a shortage of good affordable housing. With all of this in mind, we approached the University of Leeds early this year, to discuss the possibility of one of their Masters students working with us to develop an exemplar development plan for the East of Otley.” a spokesperson said us.

The groups said:“We would like the student to work in collaboration with O2030’s housing group and local residents to develop an alternative masterplan for the site. This will involve designing the project around sustainable living, green technology, and social justice, with a focus on community and biodiversity. It will also be important to reference the Otley Neighbourhood Plan that was agreed upon by referendum last year. The completed plan will then be presented to the public of Otley (and wider) to highlight the true potential of the site and what a sustainable, just development would look like. It is our hope that this document could then become a template for future developments in other communities.”

Student Natalie Rea is taking on the idea as her thesis. Natalie, who is studying for a Masters in Sustainability and Consultancy at the University of Leeds, started working on the project in May and will be looking to finish in early August.

“I wanted to design a sustainable alternative because I have a passion for creating sustainable living spaces and saw this as an opportunity to have a meaningful impact on Otley's future.” said Natalie.

As well as writing a mandatory 12,000 word essay for her submission, Natalie would like to produce a public-facing plan to display the alternative vision to the people of Otley.

In order to complete this part of the project, she is looking for local artists and graphic designers to bring her vision to life. Anybody interested in getting involved should email

Visit or Facebook: @eastotleyaction.

At the end of April Leeds City Council said: “The East of Otley allocation has been designated for mixed use in the Leeds Unitary Development Plan (2006) and carried forward in the recently adopted Leeds Site Allocations Plan (2019) with an indicative guiding capacity of 550 homes.

“An application is currently being validated by the council which when published will comprise full details for a new road, relocated playing pitches and Phase 1 residential development of circa 140 new homes. The rest of the site falls under an outline application, where the details of numbers, layout and design are yet to be submitted and will follow at a future date. It is therefore premature to confirm any final numbers across the wider development at this stage as this will be subject to further assessment through the planning application process based on considerations of local character and density.”