Menston development plans may be ‘called-in’ by Secretary of State

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!

Chartford Homes site in flood

Chartford Homes site in flood

 

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.

What the Government said after floods in 2014.

What the Government said after floods in 2014.

 

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?

Menston Community Association lodges official complaints

Two complaints have been lodged by the MCA in relation to breaches of procedure by Bradford Council in respect of Planning Applications in the village.  One of the complaints, launched by Alan Elsegood, is directed to The City Solicitor.  This follows a challenge to Councillors on the Regulatory & Advisory Committee (formerly called the Planning Panel) about the fact that they were denied the opportunity to consider the flooding and drainage reports for the two sites, and four of the Councillors who had never seen the sites before and who didn’t even get off the bus for the “site visit”, voted without any understanding of the evidence.  The complaint also alleges that the Councillors were misdirected by Legal Officers as to what was, and what wasn’t, a legitimate concern under planning law, and the Chairman of the R&A Committee (Leader of the Labour group on Bradford Council) put pressure on the Labour Councillors to vote on party lines.  This complaint has also been submitted to the Local Government Ombudsman, as earlier complaints have not been answered or the LGO has been misinformed to the effect that the complaints had been resolved under Bradford Council’s internal procedures.  Hopefully, the LGO will not be deceived this time and will conduct a thorough independent investigation.

Chairman of the MCA, Steve Ellams, (appointed last October) had raised a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman about procedural irregularities and the trivialisation by Bradford’s Planning Officers of the enormous number of complaints by residents of Menston, which were reduced to a handful of ‘bullet-points’ in the Officers’ report to the R&A Committee.

Confirmation of receipt of the complaints has been received, and the LGO advises that it has allocated the complaints to an Investigator.  We await developments.

19th November, Buck Lane, Baildon – Invitation to a Peaceful Protest in Favour of Green Fields and Democracy

On Monday 19th of November Bradford Council will start work on the  Buck Lane  site. This is just three weeks ahead of a debate,  in full Council,  triggered by a 1, 700 signature petition,  calling on the development to be stopped. The work the Council are starting, is the upgrading a path to the river, non-essential work which nevertheless activates the planning permission.

The Council have obviously decided to either predetermine, or ignore,  the outcome of the debate. Their actions show a complete contempt for democracy and the people of Baildon. They believe, as always, they know best and that the opinion of local people, people who live an the area, does not count.

Please join us at 10: 00 on Monday 19th November, at Buck Lane, Baildon ( in the lay-by opposite the path down to the nature reserve), for about half an hour. The protest will be peaceful, and just long enough for us to register the strength of local feeling.

For more information about the Save Buck Lane campaign please visit www.braidinbaildon.co.uk 

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Redrow Plans Turned Down in Outwood Lane, Horsforth

Plans by Redrow to build 34 houses off Outwood Lane, Horsforth, have been turned down by Leeds City Council.  Although it was acknowledged that the plans would help the City’s housing land supply in a small way,  the negative effects of building on the green belt linked to the Cragg Hill and Woodside conservation area, outweighed any positives.  There is nothing, of course, stopping Redrow appealing against this decision, and having costs awarded from Leeds rate payers if an Inspector overturns this decision.

The negative effects of the development were deemed to be: Continue reading

Potential Green Field ‘Land’ Grab By Developers In Leeds

Local councillors in Leeds, especially in the area to the north, are very concerned that they are about to be swamped with planning applications for green field sites. The danger comes from developers and landowners trying to take advantage of a window of opportunity before Leeds’ local development framework (LDF) is completed in 2013.  The concern has been raised by the latest threat to Kirklees Knoll in Farsley. Continue reading

A Local Quest for Rawdon People

It is an ill wind that blows no good:  just as bad weather saved England from the Armada, a case might be made that a wet summer may play a part in saving England (and Wales) from ‘inappropriate development’.   After all, what else to do on a cold, wet Monday evening than go and warm the passions into saving your prized piece of inherited village green space. All over the country action groups are springing up to save or befriend  precious areas of green sward. Continue reading

Rawdon Billing Action Group Update – Monday 9th July, 7pm, St Peter’s School

Rawdon Billing Action Group (RBAG),  will be holding an open meeting on Monday 9th July, to update people on their progress to date, and share their proposed strategy for saving the Billing from development.

Feedback from the people attending the meeting will also be used as part of the evidence for how important the Billing is to local people as a green space.

Time – 7pm
Place – St Peter’s School, Town Street, Rawdon,

Email for more information info@rbag.co.uk
Find Us on Facebook – Rawdon Billing Action Group