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The carve up of Ben Rhyddings Green Belt is totally unacceptable

June 3, 2021 11:03 AM
Steve Spoerry at Wheatley Lane Greenbelt that is under threat.

Ben Rhydding Liberal Democrat Steve Spoerry at Wheatley Lane Greenbelt that is under threat.

The Green Belt and Green Spaces around Ben Rhydding are under real threat and the Liberal Democrat candidate in the June 24th Ben Rhydding By-election Steve Spoerry is already campaigning hard to defend them.

Over the next few months, Labour-led Bradford Council is finalising its 'Local Development plan' the final document will set out the land the Council wants to use for housing development. In the current draft, the fields along Wheatley Lane will no longer be protected Green Belt.

Steve has already submitted a detailed argument against Bradford's Local Development plan you can read it below.

Alongside the Council's Local Plan local green belt is under pressure from the Conservative Government and its plan to relax planning rules and remove local people and local decision-makers from the planning process. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives can be trusted to defend our Green Belt.

Steve's Objection to Bradford's Local Plan for Wheatley Lane

Dear Planning Department

IL3/H - Proposal to Remove the Field Adjacent to Wheatley Lane from the Green Belt

Please accept this objection to your proposal and respond to the concerns that I raise. I live higher up the hill and together with my family regularly pass the site using Wheatley Lane. My children have used the scout hut adjacent to the field. My reasons for objecting to your proposal are:

Impact on the green belt

The impact will be serious as you acknowledge. The field is close to the boundary zone of a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is used as a nesting site by Curlews. The building of 155 houses will affect the surrounding area and will not be sustainably located as you claim. In combination, your four proposals for Ilkley locate 97% of the new housing in the existing green belt whereas the overall average for Bradford is 20%. By any standards, this is a significant impact on the Ilkley green belt.

Loss of amenity

Some of the trees are subject to Preservation Orders meaning that you have protected them because you regard them as an amenity. You now propose to permit their destruction.

Creation of urban sprawl

This proposal extends Ben Rhydding east towards Burley. You have failed to take into account the developments proposed for Sun Lane in Burley (extending west towards Ben Rhydding), for Addingham, for Carters Lane

(Harrogate Council) and IL1/H. The combined effect is to create urban sprawl and a ribbon development toward Leeds.

Flood risk

The field is greatly affected by water draining from the moor including the emergence of springs; this will be exacerbated if development proposal IL1/H which is directly above it goes ahead. The proposal substantially increases the risk of flood damage to buildings further down the hill and the likelihood of flooding of the A65 (a major trunk road). Three houses have recently been built-in in the woods adjacent to Wheatly Rise further up the hill. Bradford Council has been unable to deal with the consequent diversion of run-off water. Consequently, the pavement along Ben Rhydding Road is impassable after heavy rain and damage is being caused to the road itself. Your inability to cope with such a relatively small loss of natural drainage at a similar incline to the field should inform your risk assessment.

Impact on Secondary Schooling for Burley and Addingham

The effect of Ilkley Grammar School's admission criteria is that any child applying from Ilkley, Burley and Addingham will be admitted. The School has just completed a building project to ensure that it has the space to accommodate all applicants from the area. There is now no scope on the site for further expansion. In conjunction with IL1/H and Carters Lane, this proposal creates a risk that the school will have to adjust its prioritisation of geographic zones. You have not informed residents of Burley and Addingham of the risk of loss of access to Ilkley Grammar School and thus the consultation will not accurately reflect the views of people who have a material interest in it.

Road Safety and Congestion

Presumably, vehicular access will have to be provided from Wheatly Lane. The proposed 155 houses is an order of magnitude greater than the number of houses currently on the east side of Wheatley Lane. This will substantially alter the character of the neighbourhood by making the road much busier. It will also add to congestion and safety problems on Wheatley Lane most notably where it is reduced to a traffic light controlled single carriageway as it passes underneath the railway.

Failure to Encourage Economic Development in Bradford and Keighley

Bradford Councils economic strategy 'Unlocking Bradford's Economic Potential' states that it will pursue economic development by "…using our unique architecture, heritage and cultural assets to create compelling investment propositions and an environment for growth." This proposal contradicts the Council's strategy by concentrating development on green field sites in affluent areas with a commuter population orientated towards Leeds, not Bradford. It appears to be driven by a passive acceptance of where developers can most easily make profits. The Council should encourage the use of brownfield sites and especially the magnificent and redundant Victorian stone commercial buildings in Leeds and Keighley. Other cities have shown that the intelligent encouragement of gentrification can be a remarkably successful economic strategy. This proposal increases the risk that we will have large derelict areas within our towns juxtaposed with a loss of countryside to suburban sprawl.

I would be grateful if you could respond to my objections and thank you in anticipation.

Yours sincerely

Steve Spoerry