This week's MP's column comes from Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley

Once again, my constituents have been let down by Bradford Council. Their Local Plan set out Bradford Council’s intention to build hundreds more houses on the greenbelt right across my constituency. Few places escape this proposed vandalism by the Council – greenbelt developments are proposed for Shipley, Bingley, Wilsden, Cullingworth, Harden and Cottingley – along with their usual targets of Baildon, Menston and Burley in Wharfedale.

Burley in Wharfedale is particularly hard hit as more homes are proposed on the greenbelt there - over and above the 500 houses at Sun Lane which I fought so hard to stop. It seems Bradford Council is hell bent on ruining the nature of one of the loveliest villages in our area.

They have no consideration at all for public opinion in the places they seek to harm. Bradford Council’s consultation on their plan only ran from 8th February to 24th March, giving residents an incredibly small window to respond. Worse still, the consultation was only advertised online and on social media, ostracising those residents who do not access the internet. Bradford Council’s excuse for not extending the consultation was because of the tight deadline for finalising the Local Plan – even though that deadline is December 2023!

They couldn’t have made their contempt for the public any clearer.

So, why are Bradford Council so determined to concrete over so much of the greenbelt in the Shipley constituency? I think the answer can be given in one word – money! This is all about maximising the council tax coffers for the Council. These houses will be expensive – with a high council tax band – and they will be in locations where people actually pay their council tax. In Wharfedale ward over 99% of the council tax bills issued by Bradford Council are paid in full. In City Ward in Bradford, by contrast, the amount of council tax paid is closer to 70% - with much of the rest simply written off despite the Council always pleading poverty.

In fairness, it can’t be said Bradford Council have no consideration at all for the greenbelt – it just seems they have particular contempt for the Shipley constituency’s greenbelt. Last year Bradford Council refused a proposed 67 house development on the greenbelt in Bierley, and in doing so said: ‘There are other, more appropriate brownfield sites within the urban boundaries of the District, that should be developed before the release of ANY greenbelt land’.

This decision came hot on the heels of the very same Bradford Council agreeing to 500 houses being built on the greenbelt in Burley in Wharfedale. Their double standards are breathtaking – even by the standards we have come to expect from Bradford Council.

I am deeply concerned for my constituents whose communities and villages will be permanently scarred. They do not have the infrastructure to support these developments and always seem to be bottom of the queue when Bradford Council spend money – indeed so much cash gets poured into their city centre vanity schemes there is often little left for anywhere else.

The most senseless part of the Council’s housing strategy is that it does nothing to meet the housing need of the district. Bradford has a rising population towards the centre of Bradford, which is where we should see more affordable housing. Building expensive houses on the greenbelt in my constituency does nothing at all to address that housing need.

Nor do these developments do anything to aid the Council’s priority of regenerating Bradford’s city centre. What is the point in throwing good money after bad in the city centre and then building so many houses in places like Burley in Wharfedale where the overwhelming majority of people shop in Leeds rather than Bradford? It is as if Bradford Council has a local plan designed to benefit Leeds. We need some joined up thinking.

Brownfield sites should always be prioritised over the greenbelt. In Bradford’s case, there are plenty of brownfield sites - over 10,000 were identified in 2019. What is the point in land being allocated as greenbelt land if the Council is just going to concrete over it anyway.

The whole point of the greenbelt is that it should be protected from development. It amazes me how many at the top of Bradford Council lecture us about the environment and then decide to destroy our local environment by building on our valuable green spaces. It is one of the many reasons why I want my constituency to break away from Bradford Council and set up our own local authority with the places that make up the Keighley Parliamentary constituency. That is the only way my constituents will get a truly local authority that is on their side.

  •  Philip Davies is the Conservative MP for Shipley. The opinions expressed in this column are his own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Telegraph & Argus.”