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.

‘Menston Homes, Plan Does Not Hold Water’

Issue-Menston, flooding

Flooding Bingley Road, 2012

Excellent article on the flooding issue in Menson, from the Telegraph & Argus’, Jim Greenhalf today.

When villagers talk about raising £100,000 to take their local authority to the High Court over a planning decision, evidently something is not right.

Members of Menston Parish Council, Menston Community Association and Menston Action Group have joined forces to oppose Shipley Area Planning Panel’s approval for 300 new houses on greenfield sites on Derry Hill and Bingley Road in the village. Continue reading

Menston, The Long Road Back

Menston, as a village, must now start the long push back on the planning applications granted for 300 houses on Bingley Road and Derry Hill Farms; given to developers with a ‘heavy heart’ at the Shipley planning panel, at the end of February 2012.

The community, is united in feeling utterly abandoned by the ‘public service’ planning officers at Bradford Metropolitan District Council (BMDC). Especially, in relation to the extremely serious potential for uncontrolled flooding on both these sites: flooding that will adversely affect existing homes which have long contended with the natural ‘wetness’ of Menston’s geological position. Continue reading

The Fight Goes On For Menston

Greg Clark and Philip Davies in Menston 2010 (Source:Telegraph & Argus)

At the Planning Panel on 28 February, the expert evidence provided to Bradford Council by Menston’s resident representatives, and Bradford Council’s own expert evidence (relating to drainage, flooding and traffic generation) was ignored.  The Panel, therefore, took a decision which flew in the face of the evidence about the inappropriateness and lack of sustainability of construction on the two Menston sites. Continue reading

Which Direction?

Which Direction Now?

After the shell shock experienced by our entire community 7 weeks ago, at the Planning Panel Meeting held in Menston, we have all needed time to actually come to terms with what we ‘think’ took place.

As our members have been working in the village, collecting photographs and statements relating to our Village Green approach, we have been consistently canvassed to keep on fighting. Why? Because of an overwhelming sense of injustice, that although we were allowed to speak,  our concerns were never heard, or understood. Continue reading

Misery for Menston Residents After Battle for Green Belt – With More to Come

Floodwater from Derry Hill Spring 2011

How can this have happened?  Two productive farms, sandwiched between Menston and the moors, now have planning permission for two housing estates?  This land was greenbelt in Bradford’s UDP; its development will force 2,400 traffic movements per day down narrow, congested, lanes and past our village school. Continue reading