Campaigners fighting to protect greenfield sites in Wharfedale from developers have won the support of celebrity activist Griff Rhys Jones.
Comedian and TV presenter Mr Jones, who is president of action group Civic Voice, praised the beauty of the area during a meeting at St Peter’s Church in Addingham and claimed it would “spoil” the landscape if houses were built on green belt land.
He also visited the famous Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor to see the area’s natural beauty first hand.
Among those at the meeting were representatives of action groups in Menston and Ben Rhydding, Wharfe-dale and Airedale Review Develop-ment, and both the Ilkley and Addingham Civic Societies. All are currently fighting proposals for 1,300 new homes across their communities.
He told the meeting: “Building in areas like Addingham and Ilkley could spoil what I think,is a very beautiful place.
“And the problems these communities are experiencing are happening across the country.
“It is not sustainable to move on to green belt areas. What is sustainable is recycling what areas we already have that could be built on.”
Mr Jones is on a four-day tour of the Yorkshire and Humberside region, which coincides with the Government pushing forward with the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. A key feature of this policy is driving growth in housing developments in a bid to help the country compete on the global economic stage.
He added: “If the Government is serious about localism, it has to listen to the concerns coming forward from civic groups, residents’ associations and local councils.
“We agree with the Government that getting the economy moving is essential, but the myriad of proposals coming forward are clearly not the answer. They are creating uncertainty, not confidence.”
Community groups had the opportunity to chat to Mr Jones on a one-to-one basis about his work and discuss particular issues concerning them.
Addingham Civic Society is the third biggest group in Yorkshire with 450 members. Prior to Mr Jones’s visit, members had raised their concerns with Civic Voice about the thousands of houses proposed for green belt sites in Bradford district.
Addingham Civic Society chairman, Jim Robinson, said: “After meeting with him and hearing his speech later at the golf club, Mr Jones has certainly left us all with something to think about. We will meet with district councillor Anne Hawkesworth and discuss our next move.”
Helen Kidman, of Ilkley Civic Society, said: “There is nowhere for 1,300 new homes to go in Ilkley. The only way to build would be up so that means they would go onto our green belt. The infrastructure with trains, roads and jobs isn’t set up in Ilkley for more homes.”