Watchdog to probe Menston plan bid complaint

The Derry Hill site

The Derry Hill site

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

A Government ombudsman will look into claims that Bradford Council’s handling of two major planning applications for houses on fields in Menston was a “shambles”.

Menston Action Group reported the handling of the applications – one by Taylor Wimpey for 135 houses on Bingley Road and another by Barratt Homes for 173 houses off Derry Hill – to the Local Government Ombudsman late last year.

They claimed the authority’s regulatory and appeals committee had failed to give the applications proper consideration before approving them in a five-hour meeting in April last year.

Among their complaints are claims that a report Mag commissioned for £25,000 that showed the site was a flood risk was not shown to members of the committee before their vote and that councillors did not even get off a bus during a visit to the site, half way through the meeting.

The group has now been told the complaint has been passed on to the investigation team at the Ombudsman’s office and an inspector will soon be allocated.

Shipley MP Philip Davies backed Mag in its campaign.

Dr Steve Ellams, chair of Mag, said: “Philip Davies has backed us and asked for a full-blown investigation in the House of Commons. I don’t think the Council will be able to refute the evidence we have passed onto the Ombudsman. The whole process has been wrong from the start.”

He said councillors the group had spoke to claimed they were pressured into approving the applications due to the threat of appeal, and Mag has also written to the Council’s solicitors to call for an internal investigation into the committee’s conduct.

Mr Davies said: “I think the group have an incredibly strong case and there are some serious questions about how Bradford Council has handled the process and applications generally. They seem to have operated on the basis that the land will be built on come hell or high water, no matter what objectors say.

“I hope the investigation finds favour with the complainants. I’ve been trying to secure a debate in Parliament about this issue, I keep trying to secure a debate but it is up to the speaker’s discretion.”

A spokesman for Bradford Council said they would be unable to comment on the issue until the investigation was complete.

Comments (6)

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6:43am Tue 7 Jan 14

allannicho says...

About right for Council dealings, Rubber stamp it and get the money?
About right for Council dealings, Rubber stamp it and get the money? allannicho
  • Score: -5

7:24am Tue 7 Jan 14

linebacker2 says...

Environment Agency flood risk map clearly shows that Derry Hill is not a flood risk - don't think the NIMBY's will get very far with that one.
Environment Agency flood risk map clearly shows that Derry Hill is not a flood risk - don't think the NIMBY's will get very far with that one. linebacker2
  • Score: 14

8:20am Tue 7 Jan 14

angry bradfordian says...

linebacker2 wrote:
Environment Agency flood risk map clearly shows that Derry Hill is not a flood risk - don't think the NIMBY's will get very far with that one.
That may well be the case, but surely the correct process would have been for the committee to review the evidence and then decide it was nonsense?

If these committees aren't following due process they are giving the NIMBYs more reason for grievance.
[quote][p][bold]linebacker2[/bold] wrote: Environment Agency flood risk map clearly shows that Derry Hill is not a flood risk - don't think the NIMBY's will get very far with that one.[/p][/quote]That may well be the case, but surely the correct process would have been for the committee to review the evidence and then decide it was nonsense? If these committees aren't following due process they are giving the NIMBYs more reason for grievance. angry bradfordian
  • Score: -7

11:18am Tue 7 Jan 14

toni william says...

The activists claims may not be investigated at all as the ombudsman will not look at complaints that have been reported to a minister before, 1. The village green scam they dreamt up. 2. Their attempt to have the plans called in. They will also not look at claims just because the nimbys are unhappy with a decision.
The Ombudsman can not stop a development going ahead but can advise the body involved to change their procedures.
The activists claims may not be investigated at all as the ombudsman will not look at complaints that have been reported to a minister before, 1. The village green scam they dreamt up. 2. Their attempt to have the plans called in. They will also not look at claims just because the nimbys are unhappy with a decision. The Ombudsman can not stop a development going ahead but can advise the body involved to change their procedures. toni william
  • Score: 6

11:43am Tue 7 Jan 14

Gixxer1st says...

I wouldn't place a lot of hope in Philip Davies. My past experience of him is pretty grim.
I wouldn't place a lot of hope in Philip Davies. My past experience of him is pretty grim. Gixxer1st
  • Score: 8

10:21pm Tue 7 Jan 14

chainbaar says...

The unelected planning officers have trashed the city centre and now they are trashing the villages, all for a few pieces of silver. They just want to rake in the cash from the developers section 106 money.
Its the same all over Bradford. The planning panels are a farce. The elected councillors are just their puppets. If they really want to do some regeneration they should take lessons from what Leeds has done. Westfield is a token gesture and will be a white elephant, too little too late. What about the rest of the city's derelict areas of urban decay?
The unelected planning officers have trashed the city centre and now they are trashing the villages, all for a few pieces of silver. They just want to rake in the cash from the developers section 106 money. Its the same all over Bradford. The planning panels are a farce. The elected councillors are just their puppets. If they really want to do some regeneration they should take lessons from what Leeds has done. Westfield is a token gesture and will be a white elephant, too little too late. What about the rest of the city's derelict areas of urban decay? chainbaar
  • Score: -8

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