Bradford’s Core Development Strategy is currently being examined by a Planning Inspector. As Aireborough is surrounded on three sides by the Bradford District, the plan will impact on our area, and vice versa. Looking at the detail for Airedale, Wharfedale and North East Bradford (Apperley Bridge), there has to be a big question mark over Leeds and Bradford’s ‘Duty to Co-operate’, and this could have serious implications for the growth and wellbeing of Lower Wharfedale, and Aireborough.
Leeds’ housing target (2012 – 2028) is an aspirational 70,000 net, based on housing need plus employment growth. Bradford’ housing target (2013 – 2030) is 42,100 net, based on housing need plus employment growth. Neither the Leeds or Bradford figure are based on fully analysed 2011 census data; the Leeds data is determined from the 2008 household projections, and the Bradford data from the 2011 household projections – both these household projections are ONS models struggling to make sense of huge changes in migration, immigration and the economic debt fuelled boom and recession experienced since the 2001 census.
Both Council’s have inflated household projections, with economic growth forecasts from the Regional Economic Forecasts; forecasts we were told at the Leeds hearing were ‘surrounded by uncertainties’. So, there must be a question of how much double counting there has been: every new job in Leeds is not filled by someone who lives in Leeds or vice versa for Bradford. Housing targets would be an ideal area for calculations on a Leeds City Region basis and from the same base data – especially as both Leeds and Bradford use Edge Analytics.
Leeds wanted to do a selective green belt review based on their list of available sites (SHLAA). Bradford want to do the same. Leeds was told by the Inspector they had to do a comprehensive review of green belt across the City. Now, the Inspector is questionning Bradford as to whether green belt sites have been earmarked before a fair and transparent comprehensive review has been done.
As green belt is threatened in both Wharfedale and Aireborough, it is obvious that the two Councils should work together to minimise harm – but should sites have been earmarked before a review, and what are the exceptional circumstances? Both Councils seem to have those questions to answer, but the Bradford Inspector is probing exceptional circumstances in far more detail than the Leeds Inspector did. He has also taken the recent Hansard report from Stuart Andrew’s Westminster Debate as evidence:the debate was described by one Developer at the hearings as ‘nothing of note, just a couple of Local MP’s looking for soundbites’.
Leeds sees Aireborough as a growth area for housing; there is next to no land allocated for new employment, and no strategy to use the skills in Aireborough to develop the local economy. At the Leeds Employment Hearing, requests to treat Aireborough as a regeneration area, given the loss of manufacturing jobs and land, fell on ‘hard of hearing’ Leeds ears.
However, in Bradford’s strategy Airedale, including Lower Baildon and Apperley Bridge have been picked out as a regeneration area, with a strategy for developing jobs in the digital, design, knowledge, financial and service sectors, from micro-business to medium sized companies. Apperley Bridge is to have an R&D Technology Business Park near the old Esholt sewerage works, whilst Ilkley has been earmarked as an area to grow high quality employment in health, financial and business services. Does this look like two Council’s working together, when they have totally different approaches to the same area?
Aireborough, as we know, has a target of 2,366 houses, supposedly indicative, but Leeds seem more than determined to drive it through. Bradford, wants to put 400 houses in Menston, 200 in Burley and 800 in Ilkley; that is another 1,400 houses mostly on green belt. Then there are more houses for Baildon (450), East Morton (100), Shipley, Bingley, Keighley etc. According to the Bradford strategy, this level of housing will be sustainable by improving public transport, amongst other things, across the Wharfedale, Airedale, and to Leeds. There is no mention in the Bradford Strategy of the high number of houses being built along the A65 from Guiseley to Horsforth, the current level of congestion, or the fact that there are no known plans for improved transport, except for the Airport’s links to Leeds, either rail or road. Again, are these two Cities actually talking with each other?
Other areas of the Bradford strategy show equal blindness to the Leeds strategy and the reverse is also true. However, at least the Bradford strategy recognizes the different areas of the city such as Airedale, Wharfedale, and the South Pennine villages, and has a vision for their development – however blue sky; a search of the Leeds strategy will find Aireborough (Guiseley, Yeadon, Rawdon) only mentioned with regard to housing.
Who knows, maybe more people from Aireborough may end up working in Baildon and Apperley Bridge, and more people from the planned urban extensions in South East Bradford will end up working in the Leeds Aire Valley regeneration area, which means that both Cities could reduce their housing targets, and keep the character, distinctiveness and wellbeing bestowed by the green belt; but that will take both collaboration and investment in infrastructure, neither of which seem to have been invited to the party.
If you would like to attend the Bradford Core Strategy Hearings, they are running over the next two weeks, at the Victoria Hall in Saltaire, the timetable and subject for each hearing is here.