Campaigners against housing development in Keighley have mixed feelings about deputy prime minister John Prescott's announcement that he favours new housing on urban sites.

They are also asking Bradford council planners if - in light of Mr Prescott's revelation - they intend to change their views on their housing plans for the Keighley area.

The government has ordered an audit of 'brown-field' and derelict land. It hopes to avoid large chunks of countryside disappearing under housing estates in the next century.

The move comes amid controversy over the impact of independent estimates produced under the Tories that up to 4.4 million houses - with up to 1,500 in Silsden - will be required over the next 20 years. Bradford council has produced its controversial Unitary Development Plan (UDP) which earmarks land for particular development.

Silsden Town Action Group (STAG) member, parish councillor and environmentalist Keith Norris believes it is good news. "It is claimed that there are over 1,000 acres of derelict land in the Bradford district," he says. "Perhaps now we can get something done."

STAG spokesman Jan Burgoyne says Mr Prescott's comments may help other areas. "Sadly, it's a bit late for places like Silsden," she says.

Mrs Burgoyne claims public opinion only seemed to matter when it was election time. "It's a good thing for future planning but I wish Mr Prescott would have listened to what people had to say," she says.

Mr Prescott has declined to intervene in planning decisions in the past, fuelling fears the government would not protect green-field sites.

Aire-Worth Reform Association spokesman David Samuels is asking whether Bradford's planners would reconsider their proposals for housing in the district.

Cllr Anne Hawksworth, the Tory minority group's planning spokes-man on Bradford council, says the Silsden/Steeton sites are examples of green belt intrusion. She believes Mr Prescott's announcement is a case of 'shutting the farm gate after the horse has bolted'.

"The UDP gives the go-ahead for 1,300 houses in the Craven area which means that valuable farmland will be lost under concrete," she says.

A spokesman for Bradford council's planning department says the UDP has now been adopted. "The issue of brown-field sites was scrutinised at the public inquiry into the UDP," says the spokesman. "The Inspector was content the council had conducted a thorough search of urban areas for brown-field sites before identifying green-field sites for development. It is too early to say how Mr Prescott's new proposals might affect future development in Bradford."

STAG is holding a public meeting in Silsden Methodist Church Hall on Wednesday, February 11, at 7.30pm.

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