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The development of the Bradford District Local Plan covering the period up to 2028 is in another critical phase. Making sure that it is a successful plan, meeting the needs across the Bradford District is very important.

Here in Ilkley, we sometimes seem a long way from Bradford, but we cannot ignore the decisions made for the whole district that impact on our town. What is important to many people about Ilkley is its distinctiveness, its setting in Wharfedale, amid beautiful countryside, including woodlands, rare heather moors, with an attractive river and many traditional farms. For many years this rural setting has been protected by green belt legislation, but the council is now saying that it needs to build houses on the rural edges of Ilkley in order to meet the growing population needs of the district. If we wish to retain Ilkley’s countryside, we all need to say so now.

We are not saying that Ilkley does not need new homes. At present, around 40-50 new homes per year are approved by the planning process on ‘windfall sites’, for example, homes built in large gardens or as the result of conversion or demolition. In the last ten years, plans for nearly 800 dwellings have been approved, though not all have been built. The easily redeveloped sites of this type have now been largely used up. Unfortunately, these windfall sites do not count towards the Local Plan requirement.

Facts and figures

Last year, Bradford Council reduced the proposed number of homes to be built in Ilkley from 1300 to 800 between now and 2028. This is because the council has taken account of the Habitats Regulation Assessment which restricts building in areas which are close to a Special Protection Area for birds, such as the Moor. While the overall reduction was welcomed by local pressure groups, there is concern that it is a broad brush reduction which has not been calculated with precision and in fact puts more pressure on parts of the green belt areas to the east and west of Ilkley because of the impact on building anywhere within 400m of the edge of the moor.

Affordable Housing

The market value of land in Wharfedale is extremely high and the price of houses and flats here can be several times those in other parts of the district. Incomes in Bradford District are relatively low, particularly in the age groups in which new households are most often formed. Affordable housing is needed for those whose earnings are below the average, assuming they have insufficient capital. ‘Affordable housing’ built in Ilkley would beyond the pocket of the people who need it most.


Very little extra infrastructure is currently included in the plan. There is a mere 5ha of additional employment land planned in the whole of Wharfedale, which will only provide jobs for a fraction of the expected number of new households. There are no specific plans for sites to build new primary or secondary schools or expand existing ones, although these are already full. There is no plan to increase capacity on the railway line to Leeds, where many peak hour trains are already full. Driving to Leeds via the A65 or via Bramhope during peak hours will become even slower as almost every community en route is planned to be expanded, both in Leeds and Bradford Districts. Driving around Ilkley simply to get to the doctors’ surgery, the shops or to socialise will become much more difficult as people attempt to get about avoiding using the very slow A65.  

This plan will affect all of us.

What you can do

During the Comments period, please let Bradford Council know how you would like to see the plan amended to improve it. Point out the contradictions. Highlight where the policies conflict. If you wish to have your say at the public inquiry you must comment again now – the comments that you made two years ago will not be passed to the Inspector.

If you find making your comments difficult for any reason, members of the civic society are available to provide you with help and advice. Please contact the society by leaving a message on 0759 256 1214

The Next Stage

The next stage will be for the Plan to be examined at a public inquiry, currently expected to take place next summer.      











Key Points


  • The Comments period is expected to commence on 17th February 2014 and will last six weeks. BMDC will produce guidance and electronic (and paper?) forms for submitting comments. There will be some additional briefing for District Councillors a week before the comments period starts.


  • Comments need to stick to the facts and not rely on emotional arguments. The need to challenge on grounds of soundness – eg policies contradicting either other policies in the plan or national policy such as the NPPF, challenging BMDC’s statistics.  


The NPPF specifies the grounds that speak to soundness. These are on the attached list.


  • There is room to challenge National Policy and ONS figures, but this should be done collectively with other groups, for example, other Civic Societies, WARD and the Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance.


  • In Ilkley, we need individuals to respond in high numbers. Groups can respond but each objection only counts as one therefore responses from individuals are crucial as each one potentially carries as much weight as a group response. The only way to get heard at the Public Inquiry is by submitting comments now – previous objections do not count.


  • Education is a really big issue. IGS is full and almost certainly cannot expand, but still has out of catchment children attending. There may be a review of catchment areas in Menston/Guiseley anyway. We need to check the number of school children anticipated as a result of new housing (Leeds City Council uses 24 primary and 10 secondary places needed per 100 houses but this might be before the Raised Participation Age to 18 impacts.)


  • We need to understand that developers can challenge the plan and will wish to increase the numbers of houses in Wharfedale, not reduce them. This battle is still to be fought.


  • There is disagreement between the authorities over the A65. BMDC think it’s an excellent traffic corridor to Leeds. Leeds Council thinks it is at or near capacity already – before further house building in almost every settlement along the road. This needs clarification.


  • The West Yorkshire Green Belt is a single entity, but decisions appear to be taken piecemeal, not holistically. The five LAs should be cooperating.
  • Despite Government statements regarding protecting the greenbelt it is a moveable entity and parts can be deleted/built on relatively easily by creating a new piece of greenbelt in another part of the district. This means that high landscape greenbelt such as that in Wharfedale could be deleted by designating land elsewhere as greenbelt.
  • Flooding is an important issue – not just in the designated flood plain, but that caused by run off, un-cleared drains and much in evidence at present, springs. Any building in our flood plain area may have consequences further down the river Wharfe.


  • Steep wet slopes are characteristic of specific areas of the green belt around Ilkley . The railway line embankment has been subject to subsidence and it is critical that it is not compromised.




  • Consider a drop in session. HK has raised with Paul Kitching.


  • Get Jackie Thompson and Sandy Macpherson together on housing HK to set up.


  • Committee to decide what on further circulation of the leaflet.


  • Get young people involved (Steve Butler’s idea. He is writing to the Gazette, but we all need to do more.)


Last Updated on Saturday, 14 February 2015 10:34