The councillor in charge of Bradford’s housing policy has admitted she will be seen as the “devil’s disciple” to campaigners trying to save green field sites from new homes’ development.

And Councillor Val Slater conceded she and other councillors will be locking horns with “middle class” protesters as the battles rage over where to build the 45,500 homes said to be needed by 2028.

Planners and house builders also warned a meeting of Bradford Property Forum yesterday that more green belt sites face being developed if Bradford was to meet the needs of a growing population.

Coun Slater, Bradford Council’s executive member for housing and planning, told the forum that councillors had supported the larger of two controversial housing developments at Holme Wood and Tong in the face of 'middle class' objections.

Campaigners against the plan claimed that councillors ignored the wishes of the majority of residents who expressed a view.

Coun Slater was responding to comments by planners and house builders at the meeting that one of the main obstacles to new housing schemes was the reluctance of ward councillors to stand up against campaigners for electoral reasons.

She said: “I'm not yet seen as the devil's disciple in the eyes of objectors to housing plans but fully expect to become so.

“Bradford councillors need to have broad shoulders and we need to work hard to explain that housing is a top priority along with education and regeneration.

“At Holme Wood we stood up to middle class objectors in order to release land for this scheme.

“Councillors are human and need to take advice on the options. Sometimes we’ll give in to pressure in the knowledge that the appeals process is there. We are willing to listen but it’s important that we all work together, including with developers, in a way that will take Bradford forward.”

Planning expert Clive Brook, of Dacres Commercial, said Bradford needed 2,700 new homes a year to meet the shortfall for a growing population - and that would mean around one third of future developments being on green belt sites.

House builders would need to overcome resistance from ‘wealthy achievers’ in areas such as the Aire Valley and Wharfedale, according to Mr Brook.

He said the site of a controversial proposed housing scheme at Micklethwaite, near Bingley, had been allocated for residential development as long ago as 1965.

“Bradford will face continuing increased demand for new homes, as 75 per cent of those who work in Bradford also live here and more people will want to move to areas such as the Aire Valley,” he said.

“Unless their needs can be met they will move out to Craven or Harrogate possibly trebling the level of unsustainable travel.”

Residential development of brownfield sites had been limited by the high number of listed buildings and more mothballed schemes as small house builders had difficulty accessing finance or went bust, the forum was told.

David Shepherd, the Council's assistant director of regeneration and culture,said the authority had become a developer in joint ventures in a bid to tackle the shortage of homes He said: “We are very keen to work with developers and provide a one team approach to meeting the housing needs of the district. Bradford is also co-operating with other authorities in the Leeds city region to develop an investment plan to boost housing provision.”

John Grime, of house builder Redrow, said there was a need to push the economic benefits of building homes, which was often overlooked. Every new home built created 1.5 direct jobs and four indirect jobs and generated £90,000 of investment.