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From Ilkely Gazette, 4th July, 2018
Written by Claire Lomax

THE number of houses built in the district over the coming years may be reduced by thousands, as Bradford Council has been urged to alter its local development plans. It means that large areas of Bradford’s green land that were likely to be allocated for housing may now be spared. But one councillor fears that developers will try to make the most of the time before this new, reduced figure is adopted to try and secure developments in the more rural areas of the district.

On Tuesday, Bradford Council’s Executive will meet to discuss the changes. A report going to the committee will say that changes to Government policies could mean that the target of having 2,476 houses built throughout the district a year is reduced to 1,663 a year. 

Top councillors have described the Government changes as “not helpful” after much of the work on the local plan has already been done.

The Local Development Scheme sets out the content and timetable for the preparation of Bradford’s Local Plan, which will decide where housing, jobs, infrastructure, leisure facilities and schools are built from now until 2030.

But the council says changes to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which have led to a “completely revised national standardised method for calculating housing needs” means that the estimated number of houses needed each year in Bradford will plummet.

However, while the minimum number of required homes will fall, councils can allocate above this number “in order to reflect their local economic ambitions”.

The executive will be asked to carry out a partial review of its current core strategy that will take place at the same time as the council considers its housing allocations. They will be subject to a public consultation before both will be submitted to Government for examination in 2020.

The report says: “This would ensure an up-to-date and robust approach taking account of national changes as well as changes to local circumstances. It would re-examine the economic development ambitions and land supply. This would provide an up-to-date check to ensure the right number of dwellings in the right places are being planned for.”

Recently Government planning inspectors have allowed a number of housing developments to go ahead, even if the council refused them, because Bradford was not able to demonstrate a five year supply of housing land.

Keighley’s Labour MP, John Grogan, said: “I very much welcome Bradford Council’s decision to review their hosing target which I have been asking them to do in the light of the changes to policy at a national level. This change would very much reduce pressure on our precious greenbelt.”

Councillor Adrian Naylor (Ind, Craven) said: “The council has been overly ambitious in the targets they originally set, so they are having to re-visit them. The worry is, the new plan won’t be signed off until 2020. Between now and then you will get developers coming in and any application for housing will have to be judged by the existing, out-of-date core strategy. I worry in this period you might get developers coming in and saying it will be too difficult to deliver in the city centre or Keighley, and instead all the housebuilding is going on in places like Airedale.

“Work on this core strategy should have been finished years ago, and we told the council they needed to review their housing figures years ago.”

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “We are anxious to make progress on implementing all our planning blueprints to maximise the potential for growth across the district for the next decade. We know there is a need in our district for quality employment land and for good quality housing too and we are determined to deliver that.