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From Keighley News, April 11th, 2019
Written by David Knights

PEOPLE power has stopped Silsden’s controversial ‘road to nowhere’ in its tracks. Residents were this week celebrating victory in their battle to stop a new road cutting across fields, footpaths and wildlife habitats on its way to a potential housing estate. But local politicians have warned that developers may return with a revised plan for the ‘enabling road’ on the north side of town. The existing plan, which was rejected by a Bradford Council officer without going before the planning committee, would have connected Bolton Road with fields earmarked for to 500 houses.

The road would have also provided an alternative access to the planned new Silsden Primary School, but objectors claimed it would also cause traffic danger on Bolton Road because it would be near a bend and other junctions.

Keighley MP John Grogan this week called the rejection of the road plan a “major victory for people power in Silsden”.

He added: “The application was so poor that it has been turned down by a planning officer before it got to committee.

“This may not be the end of the story but I hope Bradford Council will now pause for thought and consider revising down the housing targets for Silsden.”

The council officer rejected the road proposal because developers had not provided enough information, particularly by not submitting a Transport Assessment which would have enabled the council to assess any significant impacts on the transport network and road safety.

The officer added: “The proposed development would constitute incremental development that will be prejudicial to the comprehensive development of the wider area.”

Mr Grogan’s comments were echoed by Silsden Campaign for the Countryside, a group set up last year by residents in opposition to the road, and local councillors.

The campaign group said it was highly delighted that the refusal had lifted the threat of inappropriate development on one of Silsden’s best-loved and most accessible stretches of countryside.
A spokesman said: “It was apparent from the outset that this was an unsustainable and ill-thought-out plan but nevertheless we greatly appreciate the planning department’s careful consideration and subsequent rejection of the application.

“They have acknowledged that the representations received from local people were taken fully into account.

“Our campaign inspired more than 400 objections and brought the local community together in several ways, including a well-supported walk over fields and footpaths, mass leafletting and the support of local politicians.”

The campaign group said they would remain vigilant and be ready to act against any further attempt to destroy the “beautiful and historic” Hawber Cote/Brown Bank area of Silsden.

It will hold an event on June 1, including a Springtime Around Silsden photographic exhibition, to raise cash for research and campaigning.

Craven ward councillor Adrian Naylor welcomed the road refusal, but expected a renewed application once the developers had finalised their proposal for houses on the Hawber Cote fields.

He added: “For years I’ve been calling for a strategic approach to assessing housing applications. This would have been an enabling road for up to 400-500 houses which would have had a major impact on that side of Silsden.

“My concern was that this would enter and exit from a fast road on a slight bend opposite a new junction that will be created. That would have impacted the road layout further down Silsden with the possibility of the closure of part?
“The critical factor for any major housebuilding in Silsden is with the infrastructure needs to be thought about first. That has to be delivered before the housing are built.”

Fellow district councillor Rebecca Whitaker said she was concerned the decision had been made by an officer rather than elected councillors.

She said: “I wanted to look at the plan in more detail because it was so controversial. It would have potentially opened up a lot more houses. We don’t want them built on our green fields.

“I welcome that it’s been refused but fear this is not the end, and there will be a future or amended planning application made in the near future.”

Chartered surveyors David Hill, agents for the Silsden Development Company, declined to comment this week.