As YGA moves forward, attention is turning to the next local plan for consideration, which is that of Bradford, as their site allocations proceed.
Bradford appears to be travelling in the same direction with its forward planning as Leeds was, and to be making the same fundamental mistakes that YGA hopes the Leeds SAP Inspectors will take into account during the October 2017 hearing.
A special part of Bradford is that area formed by the Tong and Fulneck Valley.
- LOCATION: The Tong/Fulneck valley is a fine example of greenbelt protected land that provides ‘countryside next door’ to 2.2 million people of urbanised communities in West Yorkshire, and lies at the centre of this urban conurbation. In addition to statutory ‘Duty to Co-operate’ tasks, Bradford’s responsibility is increased due to it being an area that cuts deep into Leeds territory. We believe this has been done minimally and tokenistically.
- SCALE: The area is scheduled to be the largest site for green belt release in Bradford MDC – 2,700 new houses of the 11,000 projected would be built on a large swathe of land deep in the Tong Valley and across Westgate Hill. 25% of Tong green belt would be lost – and more could follow.
- SIGNIFICANCE: In addition to the green space significance and potential of the land, the unique ancient heritage settlements of Tong and Fulneck are a vital extra feature.
- FLAWED POLITICAL PROCESS: In the so-called Tong & Holme Wood Neighbourhood Development Plan, local people was over-ridden by professionals and politicians. All the local representatives signed a ‘Minority Report’ that opposed the large scale green belt release proposed in the NDP.
- FALSE PROMISES – Bradford Council’s assurance that they would use ‘New Homes Bonus’ money from the ‘Holme Wood Urban Extension’ is tokenistic and probably unrealistic. The housing growth would further damage the quality of life of Holme Wood residents.
- POLITICAL SUPPORT – our three Ward Councillors and our MP are all Labour – and have supported their Party’s Local Plan housing proposals, including the Urban Extension. They however oppose the building of a new highway through the Valley – see below.
- PROPORTIONATE HOUSING: TFVA is urging that any greenbelt release in the Tong Valley must be proportionate, and on land that is less sensitive and environmentally significant. We are not opposed to the building of up to 900 homes as infill or on degraded land.
Key Points – BRADFORD – Britain’s ‘youngest city’
- RE-IMAGINED CITY CENTRE: Bradford has opportunity for housing on post-industrial city centre brownfield sites and vacated commercial premises. It could pioneer a re-imagining of Bradford & provide models for others to emulate, rather than invade precious countryside.
- AIR QUALITY: Bradford’s traffic congestion problems are immense, and widely recognised, resulting in growing levels of air pollution, with related health problems. The need to ensure that new housing does not lead to increased C02 emission should be a top priority.
- GREEN BELT REVIEW: It is disappointing that Bradford’s Green Belt Review is being included in the Local Plan Allocations Proposals The ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ case for Green Belt release has inappropriately focused almost entirely upon housing need.
- NEW LINK ROAD: A proposed new highway would cross the Tong Valley to link the A650 at Westgate Hill with A647 Leeds Road at Thornbury. Further greenbelt release would result, with industrial development adjacent to it. The road would suck higher levels of traffic into the area, and further damage air quality. We are struggling to get adequate information.
- REVISED TARGETS: There is justification for Bradford to revise its new homes requirement from 42,000 to 35,000 – in line with Leeds, – reducing green belt release required to only 4,000 homes, and perhaps eliminate this if a ‘re-imagining’ of the City Centre is adopted.
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT: the new housing would result in much greater car dependency. The area is not served by the rail network, and bus travel is expensive and inefficient.
What more can be done to strengthen and secure Government greenbelt protection policy?
Are there any hopeful national initiatives being taken that it might be helpful for us to know about?
How might we improve our campaign to prevent large scale loss of green belt protected land for housing and industrial development in the Tong Valley?
What key factors might force Bradford Council to have to revise its plans to invade the green belt?
How might we gain more accurate and up to date information about the new Highway that has been projected?
Author: Canon Gordon Dey, Save Tong Valley