IS IT just me or is there more than a faint odour of furry rodent about the Government’s decision to lift the order preventing Bradford Council progressing its Local Plan?

Whereas the assertion by Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid that a close eye will be kept on any attempt to build on the Green Belt is welcome, it remains to be seen whether the Government has the will, the energy or the resources to fulfil that promise.

Presumably, similar pledges are being made about Green Belt land across the country, which means the task of keeping tabs on it all will be Herculean, to say the least.

Once upon a time the Green Belt was sacrosanct and inviolable. The policy was black and white; no building on the Green Belt. Ever. Full stop. No argument. End of story.

Now it has become more like “well we might allow a bit here, if we have to, and maybe a bit over there and, well, if you ask nicely, we might let that bit go as well.”

So more of a Greyish-Green Area than a Green Belt...

And all of it based on a set of figures which no-one can ever seem to accurately explain the origin of.

Bradford Council claims it has to build 42,100 new homes by 2030. Says who? What evidence is there that specific population estimates for the area bounded by the Metropolitan District are accurate?

Of course, you have to start somewhere and we know by data-recording that Bradford’s population is growing and, therefore, we can extrapolate future growth. Or can we?

What factors determine the formula that is used to make that calculation? Whose formula is it? And what if it’s wrong?

Well I can tell you categorically that it is wrong. Why? Because it contains an element based on immigration and is therefore based on historic data. But, as we all know, immigration patterns are going to change because of Brexit, especially immigration from Eastern Europe which has traditionally been a rich source of new Bradfordians.

There are many Tory and Ukip politicians who will tell you that Brexit will lead to immigration to this country being reduced to “tens of thousands” from the current hundreds of thousands.

And even if the housing demand figure was updated yesterday it will be wrong because, as we are reminded daily, nobody knows what’s going to happen as a result of the Brexit talks and what state our borders will be in by that time.

And what about all the other factors that draw people to live in a specific area? Bradford is hardly a shining beacon of job creation to act as a magnet for wealth-seekers, for instance. There are no giant Nissan plants on the horizon with thousands of vacancies on the way.

And even if there were, would those people be likely to be able to afford executive homes in the Green Belt?

There is more than enough time between now and 2030 for the Government to have insisted that the Green Belt must be left untouched until housing demand is certain and all possible alternatives have been explored and exhausted.

What Bradford needs now and for many years to come is affordable housing and it needs to be where the jobs actually are, which tends to be in urban and suburban areas not the countryside.

The existing Green Belt must be protected at all costs and every possible incentive put in place to entice developers to build the right type of houses (affordable starter and family homes) in the right places (on brownfield sites).

And the latest plan to move the Oastler market traders to the former M&S in Darley Street and build homes on the old site is the perfect example. To coin a phrase: brown is the colour, footfall is our game...