Bradford councillors vote against South East Bradford Link Road's next stages

Concerns over the environmental impact of a planned major road in Bradford and Leeds have led councillors to vote against pursuing the proposal’s next stages of development.

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The South East Bradford Link Road (SEBLR) is a “key scheme”of the West Yorkshire Transport Fund, according to Bradford Council documents, aimed at providing an “improved transport corridor” to the east of Holme Wood and north of the A650 Westgate Hill Street.

As well as supporting housing and regeneration targets by “unlocking” sites for development - more 2,500 homes has been mentioned in council reports - it has been argued that the estimated £43.3 to £64.2m road would ease congestion on existing routes.

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Campaigners are opposed to the scheme, which would be funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) because of environmental reasons.

Black Carr Wood, which was mentioned in the council meeting. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Bradford Council’s Regeneration & Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee heard on Tuesday night heard how no exact locations for the SEBLR had been established, but an officer’s report indicates initial options for routes linked to the Westgate Hill roundabout at the A650/B6135, with options including Dick Lane, Gipsy Lane Gyratory and Leeds Road.

A council report authored by highways services manager Richard Gelder recommended that councillors approve the appointment of a consultant to develop an Outline Business Case, again funded by WYCA with £1,154,250, during which more detailed location options would be put forward.

Dave Robison, chairman of the Bradford Cycling Campaign who sites on the advisory group of WYCA’s own CityConnect scheme, said he was dismayed by “the misuse of clean air and active travel agendas to support road building”.

He added: “Building new roads to copy with congestion is like buying bigger trousers to deal with obesity. We need to go on a bit of a diet in Bradford and wean ourselves off this Tarmac and petrol addiction.”

Tong and Fulneck Valley Association chairwoman Julia McGoldrick said the plan’s effects on Green Belt, ancient woodland and wildlife were “outdated” and said 4,000 people were against an earlier stage of the proposal last year.

Coun Michael Johnson (Labour), who approved of the scheme, said: “Councillor Alan Wainwright, Councillor Kausar Mukhtar and myself [Tong members] are opposed to a road going through Black Carr Wood. We’ve told Julia that on a number of occasions.

"I just find it that if you put out these kind of scare stories, you can muster up opposition. If one of the routes goes through Black Car Wood, we will oppose it.”

Mr Gelder said the link road would act as a “relief valve” for the congested Tong Street but said a business case would provide “meaningful assessment of air quality”.

Coun Brendan Stubbs (Lib Dem), questioned the timing of building a road after the council declared a climate emergency in January 2019. Mr Gelder responded by saying that the road plans predate the climate motion.

Alex Ross-Shaw (Labour), portfolio holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This isn’t about a road for the sake of a road - this is about regenerating Bradford.”

Coun Martin Love (Green) asked whether Leeds City Council would need to scrutinise the plans. Mr Gelder said: “Because it’s not a scheme Leeds are delivering, I’m not aware of any need to take it through their scrutiny committees.”

The committee voted against the recommendation by five to four.