A BRONTË literary expert has urged Thornton residents to "preserve" a piece of heritage once walked on by the internationally acclaimed sisters.

Under the proposed local plan by Bradford Council, a section of the historic Bronte Way public footpath has been proposed as a potential site for 150 homes.

The document, which is currently out to public consultation until March 24, 2021, sets out where homes should and shouldn't be built in Bradford, and will dictate developments until 2038.

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Current targets show Bradford needs to create 1,700 new homes a year - over 30,000 during the life of the plan.

But author and University of Huddersfield lecturer Michael Stewart said the decision to build on the fields is "detrimental" to both views across the valley and the area's cultural offer.

From America to Australia, Mr Stewart takes tourists of all nationalities along the historic paths once trodden by Bradford's famous literary sisters each year.

If approved, the plans - referenced under TH/003 - could see homes built within the next six to 10 years.

The lecturer, who has also authored books on famous characters such as Heathcliffe, said: "Instead of walking across beautiful fields with unspoiled views of the valley, you will be walking in the shadow of the backs of houses."

He continued: "I would very much like to preserve this ancient right of way so close to where the Brontë's were born.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"I totally get the need for new housing and I totally get the need for the council to allocate that. But some of these plans are just going to ruin not just the heritage in Thornton and the surrounding area but all the work people have done to capitalise on that heritage.

"I live in Thornton. I live very close to the Bronte birth place. I’ve written about the Bronte sisters. A lot of people don’t realise that Thornton is the birth place of the Bronte’s, they think it’s Haworth.

"A lot of American tourists came over last year and these people were very happy to spend their money.They go stay in hotels in the area, go out to restaurants, going to bars in the area. I can see people doing the walk everyday.

"I also think what we’ve got with the Bronte’s is completely unique in the world. There are no other siblings that are internationally known authors. Three sisters and a brother. There is no other place in the world that you find that.

"It’s such a nice walk from Thornton to Haworth. We’re making that connection they did when they left in 1820.

"The Brontes are our biggest literary export after Shakespeare, Dickens. They’re loved all over the world – Japan, Australia – I don’t think we capitalise enough on this in Bradford, particularly in Thornton where they’re born."

You can have your say on this Local Plan by visiting here.

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