Decision deferred over plans for 500 homes in Burley-in-Wharfedale

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A controversial decision on plans to build hundreds of homes in a West Yorkshire village has been deferred amid concerns about the provision of a primary school.

The plan from developer CEG to build 500 new homes and a school in Burley-in-Wharfedale had been recommended for approval yesterday under “exceptional circumstances”.

But when it emerged at the meeting that developers weren’t obliged to build the school for which they sought permission, councillors decided to delay the decision until more information could be gathered.

Campaigners, speaking after yesterday’s meeting, said they were surprised but delighted at the stay of execution.

“It is a victory of sorts,” said Wharfedale ward representative Coun Jackie Whiteley, who has spoken against the plans. “There is a need for housing, whether there’s a need for these houses in our area is debatable. The green belt shouldn’t be built on.”

The outline plans would see 500 houses built on land off Sun Lane and Ilkley Road in Burley-in-Wharfedale, as well as a two-form-entry primary school.

Decision makers at Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee had been recommended to approve it by planning officers due to exceptional circumstances.

This included housing need identified as part of the district’s wider development plan as well as the provision of the new school.

But, said Coun Whiteley, the decision was deferred after it emerged there was no formal 
obligation for developers to build the school which would have allowed them these exceptional circumstances.

“They have to prove special circumstances to build on the green belt,” she said. “Part of this was provision of a school. The fact is, it’s too woolly.

“They are now going to have to go back and come up with some timeframes. They have got to prove these special circumstances.”

Jeff McQuillan, a resident in the village who is also a former senior planning officer with Bradford Council, said the decision to defer had been quite unexpected.

Having argued against the plans being approved yesterday, he said the site should be considered as part of the district’s wider Local Plan.

The plans have attracted a number of objections from 
residents, councillors and campaigners. Of 205 representations sent to Bradford Council, 204 objected to the scheme, with just one in favour, and among the objectors were MP Philip Davies.

Primary concerns centred around a lack of infrastructure, congestion, and the potential impact on a historic Roman development identified in the area.

“Burley-in-Wharfedale is already a very congested village,” said Coun Whiteley. “There are problems with parking, with train services where you can’t always get a seat at peak times.

“If they are going to build 500 houses, there will only be more people on the roads.

“My other concern is school places beyond primary – secondary school places are at a premium in Ilkley. People who buy houses don’t just have primary-age children.

“A lot of people say ‘yes, we need houses’. There are problems with building in the wider area. A lot of people who need houses are in the centre of Bradford, they are not in the wider areas where houses are a lot more expensive.”

Steve McBurney, Head of Planning at CEG said: “We will work positively with the Council to address Planning Committee Members comments.”