A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build homes on pasture land near Airedale General Hospital is set for approval, despite safety concerns raised by the police.

Chartered surveyors David Hill has submitted outline plans for 147 homes on a 6.2-hectare site behind the Grade II listed Eastburn House in Main Road, Eastburn.

The plan also includes a staff car park for Eastburn Junior and Infant School.

But the police have raised a raft of concerns, including one about the "numerous footpath links" which could be used by criminals to gain access to the development.

In a letter to planners, they say: "The public walkways and footpath links are very damaging in this type of development as they permit and legitimise the presence of strangers or potential offenders throughout the site."

The police also raise concerns about the areas of public open space planned, which "often create a congregational point for local and intransient youth", and the incorporation of parking courts, which "will be vulnerable to crime".

Objection letters have been received from 28 people, along with a petition containing 129 signatures.

They argue that housebuilding should be done on previously-developed land where possible, and raise concerns over the loss of the farmland.

Despite this, the plan is recommended for approval at the next meeting of the Regulatory and Appeal Committee on Thursday.

In its application, David Hill said the design of housing would be considered at a later planning stage. But it said it planned to give the development a "rural/farmstead feel".

It said: "To add to the farmstead feel of the site, courtyard parking areas have been provided around the listed buildings and dotted around the site.

"A village street vista has been incorporated into the design. This runs north from the listed buildings to the northern edge of the site.

"It allows views from the listed building of the hills to the north of the site, and views of the listed buildings when facing south.

"This means that the listed buildings and views out become prominent features of the site."

Bradford Council had tried to protect the site against development in 2005, when it listed it as 'safeguarded land' in a planning blueprint.

But changes to planning policy since then, and the fact that the Council has not yet earmarked enough land for housing, means the presumption now falls in favour of development.