Campaigners’ Joy as 400 Homes Plan for Bingley Rejected

An article from this weekend’s Bradford Telegraph and Argus to encourage all those fighting ‘community destroying’ development.  However,  note  the last line – Bellway and Redrow can appeal against this decision – if the decison had gone the other way the local community would not have had that option, as was the case in Menston.  This is the unfairness of today’s planning laws, which favours volumn developers, who care little for place-making, over the community and surrounding areas whose lives will be seriously affected by developer’s actions.

“Campaigners have claimed a massive victory over developers who planned to build more than 400 homes in a huge housing estate on picturesque green fields in Bingley.

An appeal against a “crackpot scheme” to build between 420 and 440 homes on fields bordering the Leeds Liverpool canal in Sty Lane, Micklethwaite, was dismissed yesterday by Eric Pickles MP, the Secretary of State for communities and local government.

Greenhill Action Group (GAG) has been fighting the proposals by developers Bellway and Redrow for nearly three years spending £60,000 in a battle which ended in a ten-day public inquiry held by a Government inspector.

Chairman Terry Brown said: “This is fantastic news. It is what we have hoped for. We believed in what we were fighting for and we are very pleased that the inspector and the Secretary of State have agreed with us.”

A report by the inspector, Richard Clegg, who held the public inquiry at Bradford City Hall, said there would be “severe harm” to road safety if the developers were allowed to press ahead with plans to put a new swing bridge in Micklethwaite Lane, across the canal, as the main route to the planned housing development. There would also be delays for emergency vehicles attempting to reach the site from an exit in Oakwood Drive, should the bridge break down, he said in his report.

In the report, Mr Clegg wrote: “I consider the increased usage resulting from the proposal would cause severe harm in respect of both highway safety and traffic movement. The benefits to pedestrian safety and traffic movement arising from the provision of a wider bridge with a footway would not offset this harm.”

he report states that, although the planned development would not spoil recreation on the Leeds Liverpool canal, it would impact on historical features, including the grade II-listed Laythorpe Farmhouse.

Mr Clegg agreed with the developers that the planned housing estate would make a “significant contribution” to the supply of housing land in Bradford district to house a rapidly-growing population. The area is earmarked for housing in Bradford Council’s development plan.

However, the report reads: “Having regard to all relevant matters, and the range of representations advanced, I conclude that the balance lies against this proposal for development.”

A public inquiry was held in February after the developers appealed following a decision by Bradford Council’s Shipley Area Committee to refuse planning permission for the housing scheme.

During the hearing Jack Smyth, the barrister representing GAG described plans for the main route into the planned housing estate as “without precedent.”  He said the proposals were “a crackpot scheme which is doomed to failure.”

Shipley MP Phillip Davies has also supported the campaigners’ long-running battle. Following yesterday’s ruling, he said: “I am absolutely elated that the government inspector has upheld the Council’s decision. All the credit needs to go to Greenhill Action Group, who have been superbly well organised.”

Mr Davies added: “I will be urging Bradford Council to take this area of land out of the development plan to make sure that no more planning applications come in. Then the people of Micklethwaite will be able to sleep easily.”

Terry Brown, from, Greenhill action group, paid tribute to the Telegraph & Argus for highlighting the need to preserve the district’s countryside in the Save Our Green Spaces campaign.

The campaign was launched last year in a bid to highlight the need to build on disused and derelict land rather than building houses on greenfield sites Mr Brown said: “We have seen a number of decisions recently allowing developers to build on green fields which creates an environment where they think they can get away with building on our open spaces.

“These spaces are very important to the people of this country as proved by the government last year who highlighted the mental and physical benefits of people having access to open green areas.

“This decision reiterates our stance that these fields should not be developed and I sincerely hope the developers will find some way of walking away from this area and return the fields to the community for future generations to enjoy.”

Bellway and Redrow can still appeal the judgement in the High Court .”