Fears over gradual erosion of village way of life

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Rural villages forming the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales are at risk of becoming “dormitory towns” for affluent city commuters, local leaders have warned, pricing out young families brought up in the area.

A row brewing on the outskirts of Bradford, in the wake of a report which warned Green Belt land is being “gobbled up”, has seen concerns raised over city centre sites which sit untouched despite planning being passed for around 2,000 homes. Now, with fears that boundaries of once distinct villages are merging amidst continued development, councillors have called for action over an “erosion of rural communities”.

“Rural areas are ending up with a disproportionate amount of very expensive houses,” said independent Craven Councillor Adrian Naylor. “It’s not going to solve a local housing need. Communities are not getting the benefits - they are being priced out and forced to move on.”

Last week, a report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England warned more than three-quarters of the 460,000 homes planned across England on greenbelt land will be unaffordable by Government definitions. In Yorkshire, it found, local authorities planned to release greenbelt land to accommodate 49,000 homes, including 11,000 in Bradford and 10,572 in Leeds.

“The purpose of the Green Belt is to keep space between settlements,” argued independent Coun Anne Hawkesworth, representing Ilkley. “We can see the difference that is having on the whole character of the area. It’s such a shame. It’s an attractive area because of how nice it is now, not on how it might be.”

Coun Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s executive member for regeneration and planning, said the authority had to source green belt sites to meet housing need, adding that it was committed to ensuring maximum use of brown field sites.

“The majority of the new homes to be built over the next 15 years will be in urban areas or brownfield sites, including plans for affordable housing,” he said.