Butchers’ plans to build farm shop and café on outskirts of Silsden refused due to Green Belt policy

A butchers’ plans to build a farm shop and café on the outskirts of Silsden have been refused after councillors were told the business would go against Green Belt policy.

Councillors said they supported the local business’ plans to expand, but argued they couldn’t rip up national planning policy because they’d like to have an afternoon tea in a new farm shop.

Last year long-standing Silsden butcher Isherwood’s applied for planning permission to build a new farm shop and café next to the golf driving range on Keighley Road.

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Isherwood’s is currently based in a small unit in the town centre. The business said it wanted to expand, but argued there were no buildings Silsden available for such an expansion.

Silsden Farm Shop SiteSilsden Farm Shop Site
Silsden Farm Shop Site

Although the site is currently a car parking area, it does lie within the Green Belt. Bradford Council received 908 letters of support for the application, and 32 objections.

But when the plans came before the council’s Keighley and Shipley Planning Panel on Wednesday, planning officers had recommended the development be refused.

They argued the development would go against two major planning policies – preventing development in the Green Belt and discouraging business to open in out of town locations – which planners say would draw people out of Silsden town centre.

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They also raised concerns about the increased traffic turning onto and out of the site on a busy road.

Jo Steele, representing the applicants, said the company had been looking for larger premises in the town for decades, but no free units were available.

Silsden Town Councillor Adrian Naylor spoke in support of the plans, arguing there were “special circumstances” that should allow the plans to go ahead.

He said hundreds of homes had been built or were due to be built in Silsden in the coming years.

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Unless businesses were supported, Silsden risked becoming a “dormitory town” – he argued.

Councillor Chris Herd said: “I can’t help but feeling we’d miss an opportunity if we didn’t support this. We represent the people, and there has been a lot of support for this. It is the opportunity to improve a gravel car park. Someone is wanting to invest and create jobs.”

Chair of the Committee Coun Sinead Engel said: “This site is in the Green Belt – I don’t think we can get past that. It is a waste of time arguing over highways issues when there is still the main reason for refusal – that this is in the Green Belt.

“We might say this business would sound like it’s a lovely place to do some shopping or have an afternoon tea and look out at the view, but the reason we have Green Belt policy is to protect these views and sites for future generations.”

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Coun Nazam Azam said: “This is an excellent plan, but it is in the wrong place. I don’t want to come across as anti-business, but getting over the Green Belt issue is too much.”

Coun Andrew Loy asked what special circumstances could lead to building on Green Belt being approved. He pointed out that dozens of homes had been given approval for Green Belt outside Ilkley.

Mrs Fillingham said housing need was one of the few reasons development could be approved in Green Belt.

Coun Hurd added: “Someone is going to invest a lot of money and create jobs. I think planning needs to consider that a bit more.”

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Every member of the committee except Coun Hurd voted to refuse the application.

After the meeting Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore slammed the decision, despite the fact his fellow Conservative Coun Loy was among those who voted for refusal.

He said: “Time and time again, Bradford Council have chosen to ignore widespread local opposition and push ahead with the barrage of new housing developments they have unleashed on Silsden – putting our town’s infrastructure at risk.

“Yet now, when it comes to an application from a local small business for a farm shop which would have created jobs and boosted the local economy, they reject it – even after the Isherwood’s received huge widespread local support for their plans. It’s hypocritical, non sensical and anti-business.

“Bradford Council should be supporting local business growth, especially for key infrastructure projects such as local shops and services – not refusing them.”

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