Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, has kindly forwarded a letter he has received from the Department for Communities & Local Government. This relates to plans for housing on Bingley Road, Menston – 2 sites, one for 12 dwellings and the other for 137 dwellings.
The Minister’s letter notes that public concern about these proposed developments has been brought to attention previously, but that Bradford MDC nevertheless proceeded to grant Planning Permission for another site in Menston, on Derry Hill. As regards the two sites in Bingley Road, however …
- In respect of the site proposed for development by Chartford Homes, the Minister has issued “an Article 25 Direction … to allow the Secretary of State time to consider your request to call in.”
- In relation to the larger development proposed by Taylor Wimpey, the Minister notes the concerns about flood risk and groundwater emergence (which have repeatedly been drawn to the attention of Bradford Council). The Minister further notes that a decision was deferred at the Regulatory & Appeals Committee Meeting on 15 October, so that an independent expert’s detailed study and report on groundwater and drainage can be undertaken, to investigate the issues raised by objectors.
The Department of Communities & Local Government is “actively monitoring” the Bingley Road application, and the Minister undertakes that “Should the Council resolve to grant planning permission, rest assured the Secretary of State will consider your request to call in the application, and in doing so, will take account of all your representations.”
There is ample evidence, which Officers of Bradford Council have never fully disclosed to members of the Regulatory & Appeals Committee, to show that the Chartford Homes site has been specifically designed as a catchment area (detention basin) for groundwater and surface water from the moorland above Bingley Road, and that the site floods regularly to a depth of 40cms, and sometimes more. How anyone could contemplate construction (or buying) a home on that site defies explanation, as it was designed to flood, and would!
A letter from the DCLG on behalf of the Secretary of State, specifically to Stewart Currie, Planning Officer at CBMDC, says: “The Secretary of State hereby directs your Council not to grant permission on this application (re. Chartford Homes/Bingley Road) without specific authorisation. This direction is issued to enable him (the Secretary of State) to consider whether …. the application should be referred to him for determination.” The letter also requires Mr Currie to submit a wide range of documentation and evidence to the Secretary of State, including the flood risk assessments. Hopefully, the Officers will not be able to conceal evidence from the Secretary of State in the way they appear to have done from the community and those Councillors who have sat on the R&A Committee.
The larger site, which Taylor Wimpey wish to develop, is riddled with seasonal springs, aquifers and culverts, and ample evidence has already been presented to show that the developers and Bradford Council have underestimated the amount of water going through and under that site, by a factor of ten! Once again, the Officers have not given the Councillors on the R&A Committee this evidence nor have they explained the implications, either for houses built on the site, or for those below the site, which would be in the direct line of potential flood.
Whilst we can only now await the hydrology report and, in particular, the groundwater issue – which has never featured in Bradford Council’s consideration – it is reassuring that the Secretary of State now has these matters ‘on his radar’, and for that it is right to thank Philip Davies for his persistence in bringing the concerns of Menston’s residents to the Minister’s attention.
Meanwhile, Menston Action Group has reissued its appeal to Menston residents to make financial contributions towards the cost of the independent flooding and drainage report, and to meet anticipated costs of legal representation if it becomes necessary to request a Judicial Review. It can’t be right that a small community, threatened with plans for volume development which would overwhelm its infrastructure and change its whole character, should have to rely upon financial sacrifices of its residents to contest the plans of huge corporations such as Taylor Wimpey. Whatever happened to “localism” and the priority being given to the wishes of the local population?