A LAST-DITCH bid to force Council bosses to slash their housing targets failed last night, as the authority ratified a key part of its controversial Local Plan.

There were passionate speeches from all sides of City Hall’s Council chamber tonight as councillors debated the best way to earmark land for developers in the coming years.

The plan’s core strategy sets out the need for 42,100 new homes by 2030, as well as providing a blueprint for industry and infrastructure.

But one councillor, Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley), said Leeds City Council was now having to slash its housing targets by more than a fifth and urged Bradford to conduct an urgent review into whether it should do the same.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Labour’s portfolio holder for planning, said Leeds had adopted its core strategy three years ago and while Bradford didn’t have one, it meant the district was a developer free-for-all.

He said Bradford’s core strategy would only earmark two per cent of the Green Belt for development and also aimed to halve the number of empty homes across the district.

This “enables us to protect the rest of the Green Belt”, he said.

Councillor Brendan Stubbs (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said Leeds was “taking us for fools” by slashing its housing targets because Bradford was effectively building its housing for them.

Councillor Simon Cooke (Bingley Rural), leader of the Conservative group, said no Labour councillors had turned up to represent their communities when a planning inspector held a public examination of the strategy.

He said: “You failed those communities, and we are going to let them know.”

Cllr Cooke said the plan wouldn’t work because it didn’t tackle the issue of why developers didn’t want to build in the inner city.

He said: “The strategy is fundamentally flawed because it is not going to be delivered.”

Much of the debate centred around whether housebuilding was being concentrated in the right places, with opposition groups claiming there would be too many expensive homes built in leafy areas.

But Councillor David Green (Lab, Wibsey) said if they put more housing in the city centre, this just meant that more economic development would have to take place in outlying areas.

He also attracted cheers from Labour colleagues when he criticised calls for affordable housing to be concentrated in the city, saying: “You do not try to ghettoise affordable housing into the areas that suit you.”

The political parties also argued with each other over who was to blame for the length of time it had taken to get the core strategy to this point - a process which has taken six years.

An amendment by Councillor Hawkesworth calling for an “urgent review” of the housing target was defeated at the vote, despite winning the backing of the Conservatives.

The ruling Labour group narrowly won the next vote, to ratify the core strategy, with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens all voting against.