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From Craven Herald & Pioneer, August 28th, 2018

SILSDEN residents are uniting to save a much-loved stretch of Silsden countryside from bulldozers. Silsden Campaign Group for the Countryside has been formed in the wake of more than 300 objections to plans to build a road across three footpaths to serve a potential housing estate. Keighley MP John Grogan this week pledged his support for the campaign against the ‘enabling road’ across fields between Bolton Road, Hawber Lane at Swartha, and Banklands. The road is also intended to provide a secondary access route to the new Silsden Primary School, which has already gained planning permission from Bradford Council.
Campaigners this week claimed the road would cut across fields that were abundant with trees and hedgerows, and destroy a “particularly beautiful” corner of Silsden rich in bird and wildlife habitats.

They said the fields were crossed by three popular footpaths which had been used and enjoyed by generations of Silsden families.

Caroline Whitaker, a co-convener of the group, claimed the new school was being used as a red herring to disguise “unsustainable” plans to open up the land to hundreds of houses.

Objectors believe the town’s infrastructure would not support such massive development. They also point to potential road safety problems because the new road would dissect both Bolton Road –a speeding hot-spot – and the ancient Brown Bank Lane.

Co-convener Cathy Liddle, author of a book on Silsden’s historic footpaths, said: “The town has already accepted the loss of some of its green spaces and natural features to allow several hundred houses to be built – but this is a step much too far.

“It is notable that many of the objections come from young parents, who do not want their children to be denied the opportunity to visit and appreciate their local countryside. This is a campaign for the children of tomorrow.”

As part of its campaign, the group plans to commission an environmental survey, hold a mass community walk across the affected footpaths, and invite a well-known environmental writer to address a public gathering.
Individual members and supporters are undertaking specific research roles on such subjects as school places, traffic counts and flood risks.

Keighley MP John Grogan, who has already raised traffic concerns over the primary school plan, this week spoke out against the new road plan.
He said Bradford Council had recently agreed to review its housing target for the period 2015-2030, potentially reducing it by up to one third.

He added: “In Silsden, the current target is 1,200 but my understanding is that not far short of 800 houses in the town have already been built or received planning permission.

“It would be wrong and premature to start building a road for a potential housing development given these numbers and the fact that the council itself is just about to start a site allocation review across the city.”
The developers’ agent was unavailable for comment this week.