Bronte villagers step up their campaign against housing plan

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OPPOSITION is growing to plans for 320 homes on green belt land in Bronte country as a businessman prepares to submit a scheme to Bradford Council.

Bradford businessman Pervez Abbas said last night that the first phase of the plan, an application to build 120 homes on land at Weavers Hill, Haworth, would be submitted shortly.

He said the homes would be a mix of detached and semi-detached properties, with 10 per cent of them two-bed semis in the ‘affordable’ homes category.

The aim would be to make the homes “blend in” by building them to look similar to properties in the area, he said.

If the first phase is a success, he has plans to apply for permission to build another 200 homes on the same plot, which he owns.

Opposition to the plans is mounting, with critics including local councillors, residents and the literary group the Bronte Society.

The list of opponents grew this week as members of Haworth Parish Church issued a statement.

Church pastor Peter Mayo-Smith said: “We do not support the introduction of large-scale developments on greenfield sites in and around the village.

“Many people in the area depend on the visitors for their livings and it is important that the appearance of the village is maintained to ensure that our tourism industry is retained and developed.”

He warned that such large-scale developments in the area would “threaten the unique nature of the village”.

Mr Mayo-Smith said a decision about Weavers Hill should not be taken until the parish council had produced its neighbourhood development plan and the city council had compiled its own district plan.

“These two documents are considering what land is available for development in the village and both have an element of community involvement and consultation built into their processes.”

Mr Mayo-Smith told the Yorkshire Post: “Would we decide to plonk a major re-development in the centre of York?

“We get millions of visitors a year - are they going to continue to come?

“If they don’t, it could put people into unemployment.”

The Bronte Society has fears that Haworth’s landscape and heritage will suffer if large housing developments are allowed to go ahead.

The society’s heritage and conservation officer, Christine Went, said the status of the land in question, as designated by Bradford Council, suggested that Weavers Hill could eventually be released as land for housing.

She believed this would be a mistake and would damage elements of what makes Haworth special and attractive to tourists.

She added: “Haworth’s infrastructure is stretched to the limits as it is and the additional road construction, school and medical facilities would change the character of the village completely.”

Last night Mr Abbas said his development would pump in £500,000 to support community and education provision through section 106 money paid to the council.

He claimed opposition was driven by a small number of residents living close to the proposed development.

“People are happy that housing is being built,” he said.

“I want to know how we can work together. I want to make people happy.”

The land, he said, was the only plot in Haworth large enough for such a development.