A formal association has been set up to protect Green Belt land which Bradford Council is considering building thousands of houses on.

The Tong and Fulneck Valley Association opposes the development of new housing on land to the east of Holme Wood and towards Tong Village as part of the Council’s Regional Spatial Strategy.

The homes would be built within 20 years and would help the Council meet a Government target to build a possible 50,000 homes in the district by 2026.

The valley is included in two out of four plans drafted by planners to accommodate the housing, which could see up to 5,000 new homes built in the area.

But the vicar of Holme Wood, Canon Gordon Dey, who is chairman of the new association, has said the group would continue to try to protect the land in the future, whether the Council builds the new homes or not.

He said: “We want to up the campaign.

“We want to make sure we are moving forward in a way that gets people with us and also, I think, we are in this for the long term.

“I don’t think its just the matter for providing a huge amount of house-building, but we also want to ensure that this really very interesting area between Bradford and Leeds is a place which is protected.

“These are rural villages, but they have an amazing amount of antiquity. They are historically exceedingly significant and it is a unique feature that between these two cities we have the existence of such rural communities.”

The group is anticipating the Council to announce which single plan it hopes to proceed with later this year.

But Mr Dey said the area was currently protected as it was Green Belt. He said: “It can’t be built on while it is Green Belt and it has been kept in the Green Belt because Bradford and Leeds have had policies in place which say that land shouldn’t be built on.”

Mr Dey said land could be identified within the Holme Wood estate to build an extra 1,000 houses to meet demand.