PLANS to build 72 affordable homes on the former site of a sawmill in Denholme have been approved.

Proposals to build housing on the former Station Sawmill site, on Station Road, have been mooted for a number of years, and at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeal Committee on Thursday, members voted to approve the scheme.

They agreed that it provided much needed affordable housing, and would lead to improvements in the area’s biodiversity and highways system.

As part of the approval, the developers would have to improve the condition of Station Road, which is littered with potholes, and improve its junction with Main Road.

However, there have been concerns about the development.

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Part of the Great Northern Railway Trail, a cycle and walk way that, once complete, will link Keighley, Denholme and Halifax, will pass through the site.

Previous housing schemes have left space for this trail to pass through the site.

But the latest application, by Together Housing & GT Yorkshire, will see some of the route share space with driveways of some of the new properties.

Planning officers admitted that parts of the trail through the site were of “substandard design” - but said the benefits of the scheme outweighed these shortfalls.

The plans will also include biodiversity improvements to the brownfield land.

At the meeting, Richard Coombs, from the Great Northern Railway Trail, said: “This application is compromised by including a section of the trail in the development.

“It will be unsafe, and bring users into contact with cars on up to 13 driveways.”

He said cars could park on this section of the trail, and it would not be safe for young cyclists to use.

However, members of the Committee were told that to keep the trail completely separate from the houses, the scheme would need to drop three of the affordable houses.

The applicants said the fact that the homes were all due to be low cost, and the fact that the development would require expansive works to improve Station Road, meant they could not afford to cut three houses from their plans.

Some Denholme residents had also raised concerns about the extra traffic the homes would create, and questioned whether Denholme could support more housing.

Councillor Mike Ellis (Cons, Bingley Rural), pointed out that if the homes plans were refused, the site would remain with its existing use - industrial, which could lead to heavy goods vehicles passing through the village.

He added: “Housing on this site has been approved twice before in outline form.

“Housing is desperately needed across the district. It pleases me that Station Road will be made up, and that the junction at the top will be amended.”

Members unanimously voted to approve the plans.