freedom-of-information-request-oct-2016On 18 October, on behalf of WARD, a Freedom of Information request was submitted to Bradford Council relating to the Council’s own comment in the SHLAA that “a significant number of sites with planning permission within Bradford City Centre … on the advice of volume house builder representatives on the SHLAA Working Group, have been completely left out of the 5 year (housing) supply due to the collapse in the market for city centre flats and apartments.” That comment was made in 2010 in preparation for the issue of the first version of the SHLAA in 2011.

However, there have been two revisions of the SHLAA since then, in 2013 and 2015 and it is not clear whether this “significant number of sites” have been included. The housing market, we are told, is in crisis and people need houses close to where they work. That’s a key part of Bradford Council’s Policy statements, but not one they seem to be adhering to. The housing market has strengthened substantially since 2010 (in the aftermath of the economic crash), and what possible legitimate reason could there be for NOT developing sites in Bradford City Centre, where people wouldn’t need to commute to work, where there are shops which need more custom, and where they would assist Bradford’s regeneration?

Given that these sites weren’t included in the first version of the SHLAA, so not even identified, how are we to know whether they’ve been included subsequently? The Freedom of Information request requires Bradford Council to identify the sites, reveal whether they have now been included and, if not, why they are still ‘sitting there’ with planning permission. If Bradford Council is allowing developers to keep sites in their ‘land bank’, how can they at the same time demand that small communities remote from the city give up Green Belt land for housing when it’s not needed there, and there are no local jobs?

The FOI request was due to be answered within 20 days of receipt, ie. by 17 November but has been delayed because (to quote) a member of staff is on leave, so we are told to expect a reply within a further 20 working days, so by 15 December 2016, or hopefully “before then”.