Home town of Brontës could be changed by housing blueprint

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HUNDREDS of homes could be built in Haworth, the former home of the Brontë family, amid fears that the city boundaries between Leeds and Bradford could be merged if green belt land is developed.

Bradford Council is currently consulting on policies that will shape major issues in the district over the coming years including housing and transport.

The blueprint is currently being debated and offers initial proposals that suggest a minimum of 600 homes could be built in the Haworth area, where the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, lived with their father, Patrick, and brother Branwell and which attracts thousands of tourists and literature fans every year.

The authority is currently putting together proposals to shape housing requirement up to 2028 and estimates it needs an extra 45,500 homes as the district copes with an increasing population.

City leaders are keen to see previously developed sites, which assist regeneration, used first – but some green belt locations may be used.

Bradford’s Core Strategy Further Engagement Draft warns the district has a high percentage of rural areas but has a lower percentage of people living there. It says: “Sixty-six per cent of the district is rural in nature and home to 20 per cent of the district’s population. It is important that we harness the strengths and resources of rural areas to the benefit of the district as a whole and to develop a viable future for rural communities.

“There is a need to ensure that the countryside is enhanced and provides a ‘functional landscape’ where development draws on and sustains the natural, cultural and historic environment of the district.

“Haworth and Brontë Country to the west of the district are of significant cultural significance, for example. Using appropriate materials and a good quality of design is important to safeguarding and enhancing local character.”

The purpose of the blueprint is to identify broad locations for development, agree the type and scale of development to be allowed and identify facilities, such as roads and schools, which would be needed if any schemes were given the go-ahead. The blueprint also suggests significant housing development at Holme Wood and Menston – moves to which senior councillors in Leeds are being urged to object.

Council chiefs in Leeds have been asked to comment on the proposals and officers are recommending that they reject them amid fears that re-drawing the green belt boundary to enable the developments “would encroach into the strategic gap between Leeds and Bradford” leading to a merging of the two cities.

Officers are also concerned that if the sites are accepted as being suitable for future development, they would create traffic congestion on the A657, routes to Drighlington and beyond and the A65.

A report to members of Leeds City Council’s executive board, which meets on Wednesday next week, says: “Like Leeds, Bradford’s priority is to focus development in areas that would assist regeneration and make best use of previously developed land.

“However, it is unable to accommodate all of the housing growth in this way and needs the help of an urban extension to south-east Bradford and some local Green Belt deletions to the principal towns of Ilkley, Burley and Keighley and the smaller settlements.”

“In terms of impact on Leeds, significant growth is proposed for south-east Bradford which is apportioned 6,000 dwellings for the plan period. The Core Strategy is unspecific about how many of these dwellings would form part of the Holme Wood proposals.

“Recent consultation on the Holme Wood and Tong Neighbourhood Development Plan Consultation draft would suggest an urban extension of some 2,700 dwellings.

“There would also be impact on Leeds from the proposal to apportion 900 dwellings to Menston,” the report adds.