A SHADOW has been cast over plans for a new Bradford South Link Road after councillors voted against taking the scheme to the next step. 

Plans for the major infrastructure scheme would link the Westgate Hill roundabout with the east of the city - removing traffic from busy Tong Street and the Holme Wood estate - with the northern section of the route likely beginning at either Dick Lane, Dick Lane/Gipsy Lane Gyratory or Leeds Road. 

The route has been in the planning stages for as far back as 2012, and last summer West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which will fund £46.3 million of the estimated £64.2 million cost, agreed to provide £1.213 million to fund an outline business case for the road so the project can move forward.

The road scheme has proved controversial in both Bradford and Leeds, as it will likely involve part of the route being built over Green Belt land. The scheme will also be used to “unlock” land for up to 2,500 homes to be built. 

At an online meeting of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee meeting, members were asked to approve a “procurement strategy for the appointment of a suitably qualified consultant to develop the required business cases to support the delivery of the South East Bradford Link Road project”. 

The item prompted much debate among councillors and a number of concerns were raised about the scheme, particularly in light of the declaration of a climate emergency. 

Julia McGoldrick, chair of Tong and Fulneck Valley Association’s, spoke at the meeting and said the “public outcry” towards the scheme cannot be ignored.

And David Robinson, of the Bradford Cycling Campaign, said: “During lockdown we saw what a low traffic environment, in which we could hear bird song, was like.

"It’s been proven in many surveys nationally and locally that people don’t want to go back to normal in this regard and it shouldn’t take a pandemic and so much death and suffering to show us this.

"Major new road schemes in congested areas is back to normal, but on steroids.”

Meeting chair Kamran Hussain (Lab, Toller) proposed the recommendation, with the caveat that air quality and climate change are recognised in the framework to address some of the concerns raised, but it did not pass. 

Ms McGoldrick welcomed the outcome, but said: “Unfortunately, this was only an advisory vote and the Council’s Executive will ultimately decide whether or not to pursue the matter further. The fight is probably far from over but we will carry on until this Council come to their senses.”

Matt Edwards, community campaigner for Tong, urged the Executive to listen to the committee and objectors following the meeting.

He said: “We all know that building this new road won’t solve the traffic problem on Tong Street and it certainly won’t help us tackle climate emergency. The only people that don’t seem to know it is the Labour group on Bradford Council.

“Bradford Labour have been trying to force through this road - along with their plans for 2500 houses - and they have finally been stopped in their tracks.

“Instead of trying to push this through undemocratically, the executive need to listen to this committee, and the thousands of people who objected. They need to sit down and come up with a real plan to make things better for people living in the area that will reduce traffic, not just move it around.”

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, portfolio holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: "This was a procedural item about going out to tender for the feasibility work as is normal for major projects.

"Every concern raised by the committee would be addressed by the feasibility work, such as air quality and climate change issues.

"Design options would be developed on that basis in order to identify the best possible solution.

"Questions around housing and development are always difficult. As a society we all recognise the need to provide good quality housing and jobs for future generations and the need to regenerate our existing communities.

"The question of course is how we deliver on these aims while meeting our ambitious climate commitments.

"As a Labour council we remain absolutely committed to building green and sustainable communities with good jobs for the future and our recently adopted Homes and Neighbourhoods Design Guide embeds this approach in our planning processes.

"We are continuing at pace on our strategic sustainable priorities for the Bradford District, including the delivery of a city centre stop on Northern Powerhouse Rail and a world-class walking and cycling infrastructure connecting Bradford and Halifax incorporating Queensbury Tunnel.”