SPRING has been earmarked as a start date for development to begin on the former fire station sites in Idle and Shipley.

Social housing company Incommunities took possession of the sites late last year after the two stations were demolished.

The new £4.5 million station in, Shipley Fields Road, Valley Road, Shipley, merged operations from the old Shipley fire station, built in Saltaire Road in 1977, and Idle fire station, built in 1956 in Highfield Road.

An Incommunities spokesperson said: “We took possession of the fire station sites at Highfield Road and Saltaire Road in late 2017 following demolition work arranged by the fire service.

“Since then we have been carrying out a full site investigation which we could not do whilst buildings were still in situ.

“We have carried out a public consultation involving open days to discuss our plans with residents of both sites and have received planning approval to build 11 family-sized houses on each site. We are currently carrying out a tendering process to appoint a contractor and expect work to start on these sites in the spring.”

The razed sites have caused controversy, particularly in Idle, with complaints of inconsiderate and dangerous parking by people at school drop-off and pick-up times.

Resident Julie Stringer said: “Why are Incommunities securing cheap sites, planning consents, razing the sites, and then leaving the sites unbuilt?

“Why aren’t they compelled to build within a stated timetable and (incur) penalties if not completed?

“Certainly the Highfield Road Site is opposite busy Blakehill Primary School and it’s a daily conflict between parents parking on the old fire station site and children and pedestrians and road users.

“This is from parents stopping abruptly after a very sharp bend (with a pedestrian crossing) and reversing into the little space abutting the busy road to park for the school. It’s very dangerous position.”

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) said: “I am aware of people parking on the corner of Highfield Road and causing aggravation and making life difficult for other drivers who are dropping their children off at the school. I am also aware of at least one person being fined for parking there.

“My advice to people is to park with care and consideration to other people.

“As far as the development goes. It is not easy to raise money for social housing. We would always want things to move faster particularly when providing social housing but I will be delighted when work starts and which is due to start this spring.”

Councillor Kevin Warnes (Green Party, Shipley) added: “We look forward to the site being properly developed in Shipley because we are always happy to support additional housing provision with due regard given to traffic and parking provision.

“We will also need evidence that the developer will be building sustainable housing.”