A CONTROVERSIAL application to build 500 homes and a new primary school on greenbelt land in Burley-in-Wharfedale is to go before planners today. (Thursday, January 11)

Members of Bradford Council's Regulatory and Appeals Committee were meeting in City Hall, Bradford, to consider the application for land off Sun Lane from CEG and have been recommended to approve it by planning officers due to "exceptional circumstances". These include the housing need for Burley-in-Wharfedale identified in the Core Strategy, the provision of a new primary school and the securing of a Roman Camp, discovered on the site.

But the recommendation has been met with anger by local councillors, residents and Burley-in-Wharfedale MP Philip Davies who has consistently campaigned against the development of the greenbelt.

He said: "Once again, Labour controlled Bradford Council want to concrete over the greenbelt in Wharfedale. This is completely unacceptable as far as I am concerned, especially when there is so much brownfield land available in other parts of the district.

“The need for housing is affordable housing in the centre of Bradford, and this will do nothing at all to address the housing needs in the district. It will also do nothing to regenerate Bradford city centre as people here will almost certainly shop in Leeds.

“As Bradford Council cannot be trusted to protect our greenbelt, I will be asking the Government to call in this application to remove it from the Council.

“This shows once again that the Labour Council care nothing for anywhere outside of their Labour heartlands."

Cllr Jackie Whiteley (Wharfedale, Con) said: "I am concerned that this application will set a precedent for other applications. Bradford’s Core Strategy states that a minimum of 2,600 should be built between Addingham and Menston. Nearly all of it on green belt!

"Infrastructure (secondary schooling, parking and rail travel) are already near saturation point and yet Bradford Council still pushes for expansion. Ilkley Grammar is about to undertake expansion to accommodate children already in the system. I fear the catchment area for admissions will have to shrink as more families move into our area pushing out children in Burley. Leeds own housing is also expanding so other schools will not be able to accommodate them. Bradford will say it is only required to supply school places not schools so this application places no importance on prioritising young people.

"We only have to look at parking across Wharfedale to see the congestion and particularly near stations yet the CEG application sites good rail and road links.

"Planning law allows the council to look at one site without considering the bigger picture and fails to see the impact on people’s lives."

Cllr Dale Smith (Wharfedale, Con) said: "I think it important that Bradford Council should apply consistency when considering applications. Hag Farm Road was recently turned down because of the potential impact on the green belt! That was for two houses why will 500 houses have less impact?"

Cllr Gerry Barker (Wharfedale, Con) added: "I am concerned that the CEG proposal to build 500 houses has not followed the correct process of consultation and has failed to justify the “special circumstances” that should exist when building on “green belt” land. The residents have voted 200 to 1 against the application going forward and their concerns should be listened to and acted upon by Bradford Council, who should not succumb to the financial power and litigious pressure of one of the country’s major land developers."

Jeff McQuillan, a resident of Burley and a former senior planning officer with Bradford Council said: "Approval of this significant application would be prejudicial to the process of the Council’s own Local Plan in which work on amending the Green Belt has already begun as part of the Land Allocation Plan.

"The public will be consulted on those housing sites that should make up the District’s target of new dwellings in this document. However, it will be seen as a ‘fait accompli’ if the Council chooses to approve now a scheme of this magnitude. It simply discredits the Local Plan process and treats the public with contempt."

As reported last week Burley Parish Council has decided not to oppose the plan due to the benefits it could bring to the village via funds from the Community Infrastructure Levy and 30 per affordable housing for local residents.