12:50pm Tuesday 27th December 2011
By Jonathan Redhead
The chairman of the district’s biggest social landlord believes other houses should be put into order before any new homes appear in Ilkley.
And Incommunities boss Martin Smith, who is also an Ilkley district councillor, says there is very little need for more than 1,300 houses in the town on the River Wharfe, after they were proposed in the Local Development Framework (LDF).
Already there has been vocal opposition throughout the town against the proposals outlined by the Council in its draft Core Strategy, the central policy document of the LDF, which will influence planning and other local authority decisions until 2028.
The district-wide LDF could bring 3,000 new houses to Wharfedale – 1,300 of which may be in Ilkley.
More than 100 people turned up at a recent public meeting to voice their opinions on the plans. A range of topics discussed included housing and environment, transport, services, and economy and jobs.
Residents at the meeting, organised by Ilkley Parish Council, queried the housing targets and population statistics, the ability to provide affordable homes on high-value Ilkley land, and the impact on the local infrastructure and businesses.
The parish council will be producing a document of resident’s concerns for Bradford Council, before the consultation period comes to an end next year.
Coun Smith is another to have concerns about the plans as they currently stand and questioned some of the motives behind the proposals.
“Although the LDF is a list of developers’ wishes, the residents and councillors will vigorously challenge the proposals as there is very little need for this number of houses in Ilkley, although the perception is ‘let’s get more rates from the better areas’,” he said.
“In the document, which is far too thick and dense, it seems to be all have made a comment and its just been pasted together without any co-ordination or editing.
“We see little strategy relating to transport, schools and infrastructure overall and we, the residents, will have to argue our case against development.”
Under the proposals outlined in the SHLAA strategy for housing sites in the town, many areas have been ruled out, including several in floodzones near to the River Wharfe, such as land to the north of Skipton Road, west of Ilkley and others including Ilkley Grammar School land.
But the main areas suggested as potentially suitable, are on the eastern and western edges of the town – south of the A65 Skipton Road to the west, and fields off Rhydding Lane in the east.
The SHLAA report says “opportunities in the town for development intensification on existing large residential plots have largely now been taken up” and highlights previously developed urban land as provided the best opportunities.
Coun Smith agrees with targeting brownfield sites, but believes there are areas in the district better suited to development.
“Hopefully the Localism Bill will give residents a greater say in where, how and what is allowed in our vicinity,” he said.
“In housing terms we have recently had 6,000 homes unoccupied in Bradford. The focus should be to get these habitable by compulsory purchase and refurbishment before we seek new sites.
“There’s a long way to go yet and a lot of effort will be put in by district and parish councillors to get the right result for Ilkley.”
His fellow district councillor Anne Hawkesworth has previously warned people to be on their guard about the plans, saying she does not want Ilkley to be transformed into Monte Carlo and become an example of “greed” and the “excesses of planning”.
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