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From Wharfedale Observer, 17th August 2017
Written by Annette McIntyre

MPs are working across the political divide to protect green belt in Wharfedale. Labour MP John Grogan, who represents Keighley and Ilkley, has been having discussions on the issue with Shipley MP, Conservative Philip Davies. Mr Grogan told a meeting of Ilkley Parish Council that he wanted to see a change in national policy and a return to a brownfield development first approach.

He added that despite political differences a Shipley/Keighley alliance on the green belt issue could be worthwhile.

Following the meeting Mr Grogan said: "Philip Davies and I disagree on many things but we both agree on the importance of the Green Belt in Wharfedale and have had discussions about it. Before the General Election the then Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell wrote to Bradford Council making a number of points. Both Philip and I will be doing our best to make sure his successor as Housing Minister fullfills the promises outlined in this letter.

"The next stage in the process is for Bradford to start allocating sites for development. The Minister pointed out in his letter that the Government do have powers to intervene at this stage if they consider that land is being taken out of the Green Belt without 'exceptional circumstances' being clearly demonstrated .

"Secondly the Minister made clear that the Government had powers to 'call in' individual planning applications or appeals. I was advised at the meeting of Ilkley Parish Council that no more than 400 of the 1000 houses that the Plan says are needed in Ilkley can be built on sites outside the Green Belt. Given this I would think it is very likely that I will be calling on the Minister to call in applications on green belt land ."

Mr Grogan said the Government was likely in the future to set out a common standard for councils to determine housing need.

"If and when it does so I think it would be appropriate for Bradford Council to re examine it's own housing figures," he added.

"Finally I will continue to call on the Government to reinstate the policy of a firm 'Brownfield' development first approach which under former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott meant nearly 80 per cent of housing was built on brownfield sites."

Philip Davies said: "I have spoken with John Grogan about this and am delighted he shares my view that Bradford Council needs to do much better in protecting the Greenbelt in Wharfedale. He is absolutely right to say that we will not hesitate to ask the Minister to intervene in any proposed housing development if necessary.

"In the last few weeks in the House of Commons, the Secretary of State reiterated in response to a question I posed to him that Bradford Council needed to prioritise brownfield sites for development and we expect the Council to take heed. I will do all I can to support the local community in protecting the valuable greenbelt in Menston and Burley in Wharfedale."