Council leader blasts MP for leaving Bradford in no man’s land over green belt housing row

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Bradford City Hall – home of Bradford Council. Photo by Curtis Malinowski

By Matthew Brannen

A POLITICAL row that has forced the long-term scheme for building 42,000 new homes in the Bradford district to be put on hold has been criticised by city’s council leader.

Earlier this month the City of Bradford core strategy – recently given the green light by government inspectors – was put on hold by the new housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell MP, at the request of the Conservative MP for Shipley Phillip Davies.

At the City of Bradford council meeting last Tuesday (October 18), Labour council leader Coun Susan Hinchcliffe described the suspension as “flying in the face of the government’s own localism agenda”.

Coun Hinchliffe added: “I can assure everyone that every issue raised in Mr Davies’ complaints to the government have already been addressed in our core strategy process.

“He had his day in court, and took his arguments to the inspector, who heard them, and backed the council’s approach.”

Mr Davies, whose main concerns involve the extensive use of green belt land, said: “There will still be large numbers of empty properties across the district not being used, swathes of brownfield land which clearly should be developed before any residential development on the Green Belt.”

The Core Strategy, in response to projections of population growth, mandates the building of 42,000 homes in the Bradford area over the coming decades.

Coun Hinchcliffe promised the council would always prioritise brownfield sites but said there simply was not enough space without releasing green belt land.

She said: “This intervention doesn’t mean house building will stop in Bradford, in fact, it won’t stop a single house being built!”

Bradford born property developer Andrew Mason recently called for a ‘mature conversation’ on the future of the strategy.

He suggested in an interview that: “Mr Davies’ motivations are focused on getting re-elected and not on the good of Bradford as a whole.

“This suspension leaves Bradford in an intolerable position, it’s not a good position for residents to be in.

“Without a Core Strategy in place the council cannot build the infrastructure needed to support sustainable developments.

“Developers will continue to put in planning applications in the green belt, and without a core strategy the inspectorate will have no grounds to object to the developments.

“Developers will play by the rules, but putting this on hold means there are no rules to play by.”

In May the minister for housing and planning also put on hold the development plan for Birmingham City Council.

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