Campaigners fighting to protect green belt in the district have welcomed a Conservative plan to cut the number of houses to be built in the region.

If elected, the Tories have said they will abolish regional house-building targets, which saw Government ministers demand more housing than councils initially said were needed.

Instead, they will put power into the hands of local authorities to decide on the number of new homes needed.

Canon Gordon Dey, chairman of the Tong and Fulneck Valley Association, which opposes new housing between Holme Wood and Tong Village, said the proposals needed to be looked at.

Under the Tory suggestions, Bradford Council could see the number of new houses it needs slashed dramatically from the Government target of 50,000 by 2026.

Mr Dey, who is the vicar of Holme Wood, said: “I’m implacably against the building of any housing between here and Tong Valley. That is green belt land and will damage the infrastructure of Holme Wood, so if the Conservative plans are going to produce something which may make that less likely, then of course they need looking at.

“But I certainly don’t want to be seen as someone who is not recognising the housing needs there are.”

The Greenhill Action Group (GAG) is campaigning against plans by developers Bellway and Redrow to build at least 450 homes in Greenhill and Sty Lane, Micklethwaite.

Richard Aldred, a spokesman for GAG, yesterday said he welcomed the proposed move towards planning strategies being decided locally.

He said: “Rather than targets being handed down by central government to local government, there will be much more of a community say, where communities come together to decide what housing is needed and what houses can be built in their area.

“I think where green belt is definitely green belt it should be protected at all costs and we should try to develop brownfield sites before we go biting into more greenfield sites. I would say the proposals will work in favour of protecting green belt land.”

A draft version of the Government’s Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) – which sets targets for regional housing development – said 31,240 homes should be built in Bradford over 15 years, a figure which the Council believed was more than double what was needed.

That number has subsequently been increased to 54,840 over 20 years.

A total of 4,000 properties have been completed already, leaving the Council needing to find space for 50,000 homes by 2026.

Tory proposals would mean the Council could revert back to the original figure, and amend it if necessary.

Critics, including the House Builders’ Federation, have claimed the plans may cause some people to be priced out of the housing market and lead to long social housing lists because too few homes will be built.

But the Conservatives said they include enough incentives for local authorities to embrace development.

Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “Labour’s planning laws and regional targets have monumentally failed, and have just created a culture of resentment and deadlock, where house building is feared by many communities.

“We want a planning system that actually listens to what the public want and we’ll incentivise local communities to build the homes we need.”