REGULAR readers of this column – and, indeed, the Telegraph & Argus editorials over many years – will know that I strongly believe that the Government and Bradford Council have got it wrong on the issue of housing need.

I’m not going to repeat all the arguments here but I can’t help but welcome the Government’s review of how housing targets are set, especially in the light of Brexit and what is destined to be an enormous reduction in the net migration statistics if it actually delivers what the misguided Leavers voted for.

I have long argued that the calculations were wrong, both in print and sometimes in person with individuals who held responsibility for imposing and implementing those policies.

I remember, in particular, one heated confrontation with a now-discredited Council housing chair who lambasted me for “not understanding” the figures.

When I asked him why he was so adamant the figures were correct, he insisted it was because he understood the formula that led to the calculation and I didn’t.

“But where did the formula come from and how was it arrived at?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “It’s just the formula we have to use….”

I’m fairly certain the maths were correct based on the calculations he showed me. But it’s the premise that’s important and if that’s wrong it doesn’t matter how good you are at arithmetic.

So, like Green Belt campaigners across the district, I’m pleased that the formula and methodology are at last under scrutiny.

Housebuilding at the levels currently anticipated in the Bradford district will, undoubtedly, mean eating into previously protected land and it was that fact which led to the launch of the T&A’s Save Our Green Spaces campaign.

Experts have calculated that there is sufficient space on brownfield land in the district to accommodate more than 13,000 homes which means that, if housing targets are significantly slashed, the threat to our open spaces can be heavily reduced if the Council gets its allocations right.

At the moment, the Council has already approved the release of sufficient Green Belt land for around 11,000 new homes by 2030.

Apart from the loss of such a vital amenity, the biggest problem with building in such areas is that it almost exclusively attracts developers who want to build “executive-style” homes, most of which sell for well above the average house price in any given district.

Of course, some of that type of development is essential – we have to be able to attract highly-paid senior professionals to the district if we want our businesses and local economy to flourish.

But it’s all about balance; big cities – especially ones like Bradford with above-the-national-average levels of manufacturing industry – need workers near their industries and those workers need somewhere to live within affordable commuting distance.

Not only that but, because of the nature of their work and the levels of pay therein, those workers need homes they can afford.

When you think about it, it’s bizarre that London is so stuffed that a studio flat little bigger than a broom cupboard can cost the same as a five-bedroom house in Clayton when there is a huge amount of land in central Bradford where developers don’t want to build because they can’t make enough profit.

And then, of course, over and above so-called “affordable housing,” there is the burning need for more social housing and social rents, which are significantly cheaper than market rents.

As Theresa May said in her speech to the Conservative Party conference, the housing market is, indeed broken. The extra £2 billion she announced for affordable housing and the decision to put the Government “back into the business of building council houses” was welcome and helpful but it is only part of the solution.

To fix the broken market we have to fix the developers. The Government has the power to force developers to build on brownfield sites and to do so as soon as they get planning permission.

Surely, if Bradford Council also reviews it plans now and decides to “get tough” it will be knocking on an open door?

A Grand Canyon between price of art and reality

LIKE most people, I suspect, I love good art, in whatever form it comes. At its best it can be staggeringly beautiful, moving and life-enhancing.

You can’t put a price on such emotions but, sadly, you can put a price on art and, often, an incredibly high one like the £6 million paid at Sotheby’s last week for David Hockney’s 15 Canvas Study of the Grand Canyon.

I can think of many better ways to spend that money which would have been at least as beautiful, moving and life-enhancing as any piece of art…

Striking a blow for those over the hill but not yet arthritic…

IT WAS good to see the successful relaunch of The Little Fat Black Pussy Cat Club in Sunbridgewells.

Not that I’m a fan of R&B, beat, mod and ska music, particularly (my musical tastes kick in a few years later – and a few hundred years earlier, for that matter!) but because the venue has struck a blow for live entertainment for the over-25s.

Most new nightclubs nowadays are aimed firmly at a young audience and most people over 30 or so will feel out of place there, even if they can stomach the music.

There just aren’t enough places to go where those who remain reasonably mobile can still practice their limited dad-dancing skills in a welcoming environment free of embarrassment.

If nothing else, a bit of a bop can help keep the Zimmer frame at arm’s length for a few years longer!