“We all want the same thing. A Bradford or Leeds we can be proud of. Its time to turn the corner, and concentrate our energies standing up for our area and making ourselves heard. Almost 14,000 empty properties in Bradford and 15,000 in Leeds is a crime.”
Individually, campaigns against local development give us a glimpse of the issues. It is only when amalgamated, that the full extent of the devastation to wellbeing in our area is brought into relief: the extent of loss of precious green belt, heritage landscapes, and architecture; the increase in road and rail congestion, and the strain on local services. Not only must we unite now to make ourselves heard, but we have to take responsibility for pointing out the ‘real’ unsustainability of what the various councils are planning. We do that, through funding our own research and evidence; no more consultants’ reports paid for by vested interests. Further, we need to take it on ourselves to design our own areas for family wellbeing, jobs, cultural integrity and a green environment; the people paid public money to do it are letting us down.
Baildon Residents Against Inappropriate Development (BRAiD) – Opposing the development of a £25m business park on green fields at Buck Lane Baildon, next to the former Baildon chemical works, which is contaminated. The group believes the many brown field sites in the area should be considered first (eg Esholt Water Treatment works), instead of Buck Lane, which is the last remaining piece of grade two agricultural land in the district. News on BRAiD
Benn Rhydding Action Group – Aim of this group is to prevent any major development of green belt or greenfield land off Ben Rhydding Drive, as identified in Bradford’s Local Development Plan (site Il/009). This particular area is ‘heritage landscape'; one of the few areas that still links Ilkley moor with the River Wharfe. It is a well used walking area, and local amenity. Clevedon School was recently turned into 95 retirement dwellings, or which a number are still to be built: this alone will stretch the capacity of the narrow private road. Bradford’s plan is for a further 188 houses.
Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (BORG) – Fighting since 2004 to regenerate the iconic Bradford Odeon, amidst a lot of obfuscation by Bradford Council, who want to demolish it. Bradford Planners recently spent £30m on a “large puddle” in the centre, of this once beautiful city ‘to attract visitors'; whilst developers who want to regenerate the Odeon are, apparently, “discouraged” and the fabric of the last art deco supercinema in the UK is ‘left to rot'; vandalised by public servants! With increasingly passionate public support, this is a saga for every true Bradfordian; especially those who remember the Poulson affair!
BANDAG – Keighley - Plans to help regenerate Keighley’s economy, create a Keighley Country Park, and oppose green belt development in Bradford’s LDF which are not in accordance with Bradford’s own strategic imperatives. They are pressing for a sustainable LDF for Bradford, and feel strongly that recent Governments, of all colours, have followed destructive and short terms goals favouring ‘vested interests’ at the expense of communities. Their view is that it is time for communities, particularly those of lower Wharfedale and mid Airdale to join forces in democratic opposition.
Eccup, Blackhill Farm – Local protest against Leeds East Planning Panel’s decision to allow a 15.5m-high ‘wind’ turbine to be erected in the special landscape area at Blackhill Farm, Black Hill Lane, near Eccup. It is felt that the turbine will spoil the views especially as it is close to the Leeds Country Way, harm the green belt, and would have “an urbanising influence” on the landscape. The decision to go ahead was taken due to Panel’s view of the overriding ‘benefit’ of renewable energy; however it was also expedient, as it was thought Leeds could lose yet another planning appeal at taxpayers expense.
Farsley, Kirklees Knoll – PAS land under threat from a 468 house development, 400 of which are proposed by Thornhill Estates, between Rodley and Farsley, in the wedge between the Ring Road, Calverley Lane and Bagley Lane. This is not far from the Clarient Works site where an appeal against 550 homes, causing even more ring road congestions and over crowded schools, was lost in March 2012. Kirklees Knoll is farmed land, and was declassified as greenbelt over 20 years ago, well before it was even considered that Clarient might close. Petition to sign is here. News on Kirklees Knoll.
Greenhill Action Group – A 40 acre area of green belt in Bingley, under threat of housing since 1992. It is in the area bordered by Sty Lane, Micklethwaite Lane, the canal, Oakwood estate, Fairfax and Falcon Road. Plans for 440 houses have been submitted by Redrow And Bellway, and were refused in 2011: they are now under an appeal. Development will seriously impact local services, eg schools and health, as well as add to road congestion for Micklethwaite, East Morton, and Crossflatts . This development is very unpopular with a great many local residents who would like to see the large number of empty homes locally filled first.
Guiseley Moon’s Field – In March 2011, Leeds Council, backed by local MP Stuart Andrews and Councillors, lost an appeal to save Moon’s Field on Netherfield Road. The field, which used to be a cricket green, was allowed to be developed, only after a developer appeal to a planning inspector. The inspector’s view was that overall Leeds had too few housing sites, so the Field may as well be built on early. He ignored concerns about the traffic congestion on the A65, that this housing would add too (whilst admitting that there was congestion), and the over stretched Guiseley infrastructure, caused by too many homes and too little infrastructure investment. He also said that standing on the 12min journey to Leeds on the train at peak times was “normal and acceptable”. With planning permission the field was worth £20m and if they win an appeal a developer is awarded costs which are paid for by the residents of Leeds.
Guiseley Springhead Mill
Horsforth Clarient and Riverside – The site of an old pharmaceutical company on land between Horsforth and Calverley. Application from developers Harrow Estates (part of Redrow) and Horsforth Riverside LLP to build 550 houses, has caused huge concerns over travel gridlock, on already congested roads around the A65, and education provision in already oversubscribed schools. Permission was initially refused on these grounds by Leeds City Council, but an appeal was lost by the council and local residents in March 2012. Developers now have 5 years to build the site, and to find ways to alleviate all the sustainability issues it will incur.
Horsforth Outwood Lane- Redrow set about consulting with local people about the building of 47 houses on 8.6 acres of green belt, that includes an N32 nature area, and is part of Cragg Wood and Woodside conservation area – and deemed as such on the local design statement. There was huge local concern that land of this nature, with this protection, was even being considered for development: especially when pre planning submission meetings between Leeds planners and developers were not open to public scrutiny. However, the plans were turned down by Leeds in August 2012 on the gounds they damaged an important green space, with no compensating enhancements to the conservation areas. News on Horsforth Campaigns.
Menston Action Group (MAG) – Opposing the development on green belt, productive, farm land on Bingley Road and Derry Hill of 308 houses by Barratt Homes. The main issues are increased flooding in the village, increase traffic congestion, seriously overcrowded trains, and lack of local school places. After, a long fight, an appeal was lost in February 2012 by local residents. However, this was before a village green application has been reviewed. News on MAG.
Kirklees Community Action Network (KCAG) – An umbrella group similar to WARD for the Kirklees area whose aim is to secure a more realistic, achievable and sustainable Local Plan (LDF) for local people. Currently (April 2012) includes around 17 local action groups from all parts of Kirklees. Like the border issue WARD has between Leeds and Bradford Council’s, KCAG looks at the border issue between Kirklees, and Leeds, Wakefield and Calderdale Councils. This means major battle grounds at Chidswell, Clayton West, Cooper Bridge, and Ainley Top -see the KCAG page.
Rawdon Billing Action Group (RBAG)- Formed in April 2012 to oppose proposals by Rawdon Trust to offer up 220 acres of prime green belt land for development under the SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment). Successful bidders for the land would be expected to finance the process for getting outline planning permission. Opposition is based on firstly, the beauty of the area; secondly, the issues it would cause for local infrastructure (ie it is not sustainable development), thirdly, Leeds already has given planning permission for 23,000 houses where not one brick has been laid. News on RBAG
Otley – Residents Against Greenfield Erosion (RAGE) – Taylor Wimpey is seeking planning permission to build more than 100 homes on green fields near Rumple Croft on the Weston Estate in Otley. Residents fear this will create traffic and road safety problems on an already over capacity transport infrastructure; especially on the narrow, medieval Otley river bridge. Difficulties with school places, when the town cannot currently cope with all the places needed. Flooding and other utility issues. Within a short distance is the brown field site of the old Otley Hospital, which has been derelict for many years. Local people feel that such brown field sites should be developed first. Taylor Wimpey started clearing the land before planning permission was even sought.
Save the Dales – Wealthy foreign owned company ‘Kelda’ has registered its firm intentions with Harrogate Borough Council for a number of adjoining wind farms on the edge of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to the west of Harrogate. Built on very high ground. This combined wind farm will totally dominate many treasured Yorkshire Dales vistas for miles around and tower over the nearby villages of Kettlesing, Beckwithshaw, Darley, Clint, and Burnt Yates to name but a few. The wind farm will also form the key focus of views from Ripley Castle and its listed parks; National Trust site, Brimham Rocks; as well as the World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey. Large areas of the spa town of Harrogate will be overshadowed by the looming turbines including RHS Harlow Carr and the historic Valley Gardens. How you can help.
Scholes/Barwick in Elmete – Villages under threat of approx 3,000 properties being built on fields (some green belt) and woods around their outskirts. These natural areas are havens for wildlife eg Red Kites, Barn Owls, bats and deer and are well used by local residents for recreation. The villages will also be affected by the 2,000 properties proposed for the Grimes Dyke/Bramley Fields development, the biggest threat being increased traffic The East Leeds Orbital Link Road and the Manston Lane Link Road (potentially a duel carriageway) will eventually link up with the Thorpe Park business park and M1, which is already and eyesore visible from Scholes and set to get bigger. Disappointed at being told by the Parish Council that some development will have to happen and a Neighbourhood Development Plan is the only way forward, a few residents have joined together to for the pressure group The Village People.
Steeton Village Green Campaign – Campaign to register Thornhill Road Field as a Village Green as it has been used by local people for recreation and community activities for over 20 years. This is opposed by Redrow Homes, who have been given permissin to build 220 homes on the site. The outcome of Yeadon Banks was important to this case.
Tong and Fullneck Valley Association – Opposing plans in Bradford Local Development Framework, to build 10% of Bradford’s new housing on beautiful green belt land in the Tong Valley and Westgate Hill
Friends of Yeadon Banks – In May 2012 the status of Yeadon Banks as a village green was finally confirmed, after a legal challenge by Leeds Group PLC (who currently own five acres of the sixteen acre site) to overturn the village green status and develop houses, was finally rejected. The ‘fight’ for Yeadon Banks by Keep Yeadon Banks Green (KEYBAG) started in 2004, following the granting of the village green by Leeds City Council, and only ended in 2012 when the Supreme Court ruled that Leeds Group could not take their case to the European Court of Human Righs. This was a landmark case for the preservation of green space for local communities in the face of huge development pressure to build houses on green fields, rather than using brownfield sites for urban regeneration. Now, this much loved and special open space for local people is being looked after by the Friends of Yeadon Banks; Chairlady Christine Schofield.
Wharfedale A65 Development (Leedsford) – Under Bradford’s Local Development Framework, 3,100 houses are due to be built on the green belt between Menston and Ilkley, along the A65 corridor. This would blurr the individual ‘villages’ into one amorphous mass – nicknamed ‘Leedsford’. The effect on transport will be disastrous – WARD’s 2011 A65 Traffic Report from MET Eng, which used the 2005 Leeds Transport Department internal report, states the A65 is already “at capacity”. The effects on schools, doctors, and dentists in the local communities will also start to reach crisis level. Not only would this development be unsustainable, but it would adversely affect the quality of life for generations to come. News on Leedsford.
“For fighting for our families’ wellbeing we are denounced as ‘middle class’ NIMBY’s by Bradford’s housing policy executive Councillor Val Slater. Yet, the real issue lies entrenched in the relationship between developers’ desire to build where it is most profitable, and a weak Local Planning Authority prone to developers who whisper inducements in their ear. “