Plan to build 500 homes in Yorkshire village approved despite MP calling it 'an act of vandalism'

A Yorkshire MP has described plans for 500 new homes in a Bradford village as an “act of vandalism.”

The site in Sun Lane where 500 homes are set to be built
The site in Sun Lane where 500 homes are set to be built

The Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick confirmed on Wednesday planning permission has been granted for 500 homes and a new primary school to the west of Burley-in-Wharfedale at Sun Lane.

It brings an end to a long standing planning wrangle that has seen the plans approved and then seemingly blocked on two occasions.

Shipley MP Philip Davies opposed the development since its initial application and has blamed Bradford Council for the development finally going ahead. He said the only reason the Secretary of State allowed the housing is because he did not have a legal case not to.

The plans for the site, submitted by CEG Ltd had originally been approved by Bradford Council in 2018. However, this decision was called in, and a public inquiry was held in 2019.

After this inquiry, a Government appointed planning inspector recommended the plans be approved, but the Secretary of State disagreed, and refused the application.

The Developers and Bradford Council then appealed this decision in the High Court and won, meaning planning permission was reinstated subject to a further review by the Secretary of State.

That review has now concluded – and the plans have been approved.

Mr Davies said: “The fact the Secretary of State initially blocked this development shows – in my view – that was his clear personal view. The problem is that it seems he was unable to find a watertight legal case for doing so, caused largely by the fact – as he puts in his decision – that Bradford Council had designated Burley-in-Wharfedale as a housing growth area.

"I am angry and frustrated by this decision. I have spent a great deal of time in recent years trying to stop this development. Many of my constituents oppose it and I am so disappointed that there is nowhere else we can go with this. We have tried every avenue available to us, and done everything we can.”

A resolution to grant planning permission was originally given by Bradford Council in 2018 with the decision subsequently called in by the Secretary of State for a public inquiry in 2019.

The Planning Inspector backed the council but Government stepped in once more blocking the proposals as an “unjustified intrusion” of green belt, later to be subject to legal action by Bradford Council and the developers CEG.

Mr Davies added: “I have done everything humanely possible to try to stop this proposed development – which I consider to be an act of vandalism – from taking place. I am so very sorry to all my constituents affected by this that we were not successful. The blame for this rests chiefly with Bradford Council as they have been determined to see Burley-in-Wharfedale as an area for housing growth.”

CEG say the announcement will enable the development to progress, delivering “much needed new homes, including 30 per cent affordable homes for local people, and a new primary school as well as new open space, footpaths, cycleways, play areas and biodiversity nature areas on the site.”

They said that in addition to £895,000 of local highways and transport improvements and £43,000 of local ecological improvements, the development will also provide a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payment of about £4.4m for investment into local infrastructure including secondary education, of which £1.1m will be spent by Burley Parish Council.

Steve McBurney from CEG said: “We wholeheartedly welcome this decision. It reflects the Government Planning Inspector’s strong recommendation for approval in 2019. It now enables the delivery of 500 much-needed new homes, including affordable homes for local people, and a new primary school, alongside investment into secondary education, public transport and other local improvements.”

Coun Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This is a typically disingenuous statement from Philip Davies. Philip pulled the same stunt with our Core Strategy in 2017 with the same result – the government wasted a year looking at it but didn’t change a single word because they knew we’d followed all the right processes, which are set by national Government in the first place, and our decisions were robust.

“The fact is we can’t meet the district’s housing need by focusing on the city centre alone. In fact, we have already doubled our housing targets in the city centre to reduce demand on the green belt where possible and the majority of development in the district takes place on brownfield sites.

“We’ve also targeted funding on projects such as New Bolton Woods, Conditioning House and High Point in urban areas to maximise delivery on key brownfield sites. We fully accept people have very strong feelings about the proposed development but that requires honesty from politicians of all parties about how planning works.”

Burley Parish Council will be holding a special meeting to discuss the decision and what it may mean for the village on Tuesday, March 9 at 7:30pm (via Zoom).

Sun Lane is one of two sites in Burley in Wharfedale that could be officially designated for housing in the Bradford Local Plan, which is currently out to consultation.

The other site is at Scalebor House, Moor Lane, which the draft plan says could accomodate 110 homes. If these two sites are developed, there would likely be no other major housing development in Burley until after 2038.