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Clash over forced pause for Bradford local plan

Published: Thursday, 20th October 2016

Bradford Council’s development plan has been put on hold after planning minister Gavin Barwell issued a temporary Holding Direction, following concerns raised about loss of green belt land…

Planning minister Gavin Barwell has sparked a political row after issuing a temporary Holding Direction which has prevented Bradford Council from adopting its Core Strategy while ministers decide whether to intervene.

The development plan has been put on hold following a request from Shipley MP Phillip Davies who is concerned at the scale of the housing proposals and the projected loss of green belt land. The Labour-run council is frustrated and angry at the Conservative MP’s action.

A spokesman for local authority said: “Mr Davies has raised several concerns about the Core Strategy which have already been considered by the government’s planning Inspector.

“After considering Mr Davies’s concerns and Bradford Council’s response, the inspector agreed with the council's analysis that over 42,100 houses would be needed over the next fifteen years and that brownfield land should be prioritised for the delivery of this.

“The inspector also agreed that such is the scale of building land required, the release of greenfield and green belt land will be necessary.

“The result of this direction is that Bradford Council cannot adopt the Core Strategy until the minister has looked at the issues raised by Mr Davies and determined whether any formal intervention is required.”

The council is concerned this process could take months to resolve. Meanwhile John Healey, Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Housing, has written to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid demanding an explanation for the government’s decision to pause the development plan.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, the council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “We’re calling on the government to withdraw its holding direction immediately and let us adopt our approved Core Strategy, so that we have the right policies for suitable development to benefit the Bradford District in the years to come.

“Our plan protects 98 per cent of greenbelt land, it prioritises brownfield development, it gets empty homes back into use and it provides certainty to our partners to provide the infrastructure people will need to support new housing.

It’s very sad that the MP for one area has decided to put all that at risk across the whole District. Our plan is the right plan and we’ll fight to get it adopted.”

Read the Holding Direction letter.

Roger Milne