During an at times heated debate in City Hall on June 24, members questioned aspects of the proposals that ranged from fears a planned water feature would be unsafe to concern over whether residents would be able to grow uncontaminated vegetables.
But ultimately the Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee voted to approve the application for land South of Rooley Crescent, which had been submitted by Caddick Land.
In 2020 the committee had refused an almost identical application for the site, highlighting the fact that the site was a minimum of 400 metres away from the nearest bus stop, raising concerns over possible land contamination and claiming the nearby road network was not adequate to cope with extra traffic.
Caddick appealed this decision, and in March their appeal was dismissed by a Government planning inspector.
However, the inspector, Darren Hendley, made that decision due to concerns the applicants had not done enough to ensure there would be affordable housing or suitable drainage in the scheme.
He dismissed the reasons for refusal provided by the Council, claiming the houses would not have an unacceptable impact on traffic and that the site was in a “suitable location” to access services such as buses.
At this morning’s meeting, planning officer Malcolm Joy said the inspector had described the Council’s reasons for refusing the original plans as “unreasonable” and had agreed to award Caddick Land costs relating to the appeal.
The amount of costs, which would have to be funded by the taxpayer, has not yet been decided.
The inspector’s decision loomed over much of the discussion at the meeting, with officers pointing out that it meant refusing the plans for any of the reasons given last year would be very difficult.
There had been a huge amount of opposition to the plans, with two separate petitions signed by hundreds of people.
Councillor Alan Wainwright (Lab, Tong) referred to a report by Environmental Health officers that said soil in the area was contaminated, and that contaminant levels were so high that any future residents would not be able to eat home grown vegetables. Mr Joy said the developers would be required to carry out a remediation strategy, and that Environmental Health officers would assess the site to make sure it was safe before anyone moved into the houses.
Referring to the planning inspector’s report, Cllr David Warburton (Lab, Wyke) said: “Is there any evidence that whoever wrote this report, which is think is abysmal, ever visited the site, or did they just look on Google?”
He was told the inspector had an unaccompanied visit to the site in February.
Members questioned the fact that there were no play facilities on a site that could house 146 families.
One of the conditions added to the plans was that the applicants look at creating a play area on the site.
Councillor Doreen Lee (Lab, Keighley East) raised concerns about plans to open up a covered waterway on the site, saying it could prove a danger when children were likely to be living in the new homes.
She also pointed out that the development did little to encourage people out of their cars.
She said: “I don’t know how this development will encourage people to do nice clean things like walk or cycle when the bus stops are miles away. People will just get in their cars and drive everywhere.”
Mr Joy said: “Travel plans are there to encourage people to use other methods of transport, but we can’t insist on this.
“It is like if I said to you you need to cycle to Morrisons whenever you need to go shopping. You’d end up driving because it is easier. We can’t force people to walk or cycle. We can be quite lazy as a nation.”
Councillor Sarah Ferriby (Lab, Wyke) spoke on behalf of the many objectors to the plans. She said: “It is very disappointing about the inspector’s comments. He obviously has no local knowledge and has never visited the area.
“The road network around here is overpopulated and the ever increasing traffic will make access and egress to this development difficult.
“Local services are oversubscribed. Schools are almost at overcapacity and doctors lists are bulging. Trying to find a dentist is a bit like finding a hen’s tooth.
“The only amenity is a shop at the local filling station.”
Mr Joy replied: “Every doctors’ surgery in Bradford struggles. Mine does, and I don’t live near any new development. There is the issue of supply and demand, if there is enough people in an area a new doctors will open.
“We can’t refuse a planning application because the local doctors and dentists are full.”
The committee suggested that conditions of the application include that the water feature is made secure for safety reasons, and that the developer look into providing a play area on site.
Councillor Russell Brown (Cons, Wharfe Valley) pointed out: “Housing schemes are generally contentious.”
Four members of the committee voted to approve the plans, one voted against the scheme and one abstained.