Calls were made last night for a major re-think over Bradford Council’s new homes strategy after latest Government figures showed that the growth in the number of future households will not be as high as first thought.

The amended forecasts show that by 2021 there will 215,000 households in the district compared to the 228,000 initially predicted – a reduction of 13,000.

The revised Department for Communities and Local Government statistics stem from population data obtained in the 2011 census, while its previous figures were based on population estimates from 2008.

Importantly, predictions for new homes demand influence the decision-making process used for which housing developments get planning permission, and are often used as leverage by developers when they apply to build new properties.

Under the original estimates, Bradford was expected to see a 14 per cent increase in the number of households by 2021 but the new figures scale that back to an eight per cent increase – which amounts to one of the biggest drops among local authorities in England.

Last night the Council’s deputy leader said it is “too early to tell” how the revised growth figures will impact the authority’s policies, and councillors will shortly be taking advice from officers.

But it has led to calls being made for a re-think of Council policies with opposition councillors arguing that a panic to meet now-outdated targets has already led to the wrong types of sites being allocated for housing developments.

Council planners are working on the assumption that the district needs 45,900 new homes to be built by 2028 as they draw up its revised blueprint of land allocation.

But the new Government figures also come a little over a month after an independent report into Bradford’s housing needs revealed the Council could have been off by several thousand when deciding a target.

The Conservative group’s deputy leader, Councillor Simon Cooke, has previously questioned the Council’s figures.

He said: “I have always said it is not an exact science. It is not just about how many new households there are, it is about where people choose to live. You have to make guesses about the economy, how many babies will be born, how many people move into the area and how many people move out.

“The Council has been making an assumption that there is some kind of crisis, but that doesn’t do anyone any favours. What we need is a sensible debate. When the Council acts like there is a crisis you get developers who see it as the perfect opportunity to build plenty of three and four-bedroomed executive houses. The Council paints itself into a corner by saying there is a crisis.”

He also felt the figures backed up the idea that the Council should not just build any houses, but focus on the “growth areas,” including homes for older people and single adults.

He said: “There are other issues, like people living alone because of marital breakdown or deciding to get married later. The biggest growth area will be for the elderly.”

Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, said: “What we need is some honesty. It is almost impossible to get to the truth about what land is being allocated for housing.

“A big concern is when land that could be used by businesses is allocated for housing. Yes, we need houses, but we still need jobs. Another big issue is we need houses for young people. A lot of the properties being built won’t be affordable for them.”

The Council’s deputy leader, Councillor Imran Hussain, said: “It’s too early to tell what the detailed implications of these figures are for the Bradford district and the number of houses we are required to build by the Government’s national planning policies. Officers will be advising us in due course.

“What is clear though is that the district’s population is growing and we need to ensure a sufficient supply of affordable housing to meet demand making sure that we get the right homes in the right places at the right prices.

“This is one of the key strategic priorities of the Council which is why we are investing in the delivery of affordable housing and in bringing empty homes back into use as a matter of priority”

Terry Brown, chairman of the Greenhill Action Group which is campaigning to stop up to 440 houses being built on a green field site off Sty Lane in Micklethwaite, Bingley, said the group was waiting to hear what the implications will be of a successful High Court challenge by Bellway and Redrow Homes over the grounds used by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles when he backed the Council’s decision to refuse them planning permisson.

One of the developers’ arguments to press their case as the matter is reconsidered by Mr Pickles’s department is the shortfall of housing in the district.

The same argument has been used by other developers, including Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Homes, which last week won planning permission from the Council to build more than 300 homes in Menston in the face of intense opposition by existing residents.

Mr Brown said: “When we first started our campaign we told the Council its figures were too high, particularly in the view of the empty houses in the area, but it constantly poo-pooed these comments, saying the figures came from the Government and were correct.

“We knew the figures couldn’t be this high, and this shows the figures were wrong. It suggests they don’t need as many houses as they think they do.”

By 2021 the number of households where the primary occupants are aged 65 or more will leap from 49,000 to 58,000, while the number of households occupied by people under 34 will remain the same – 38,000, according to the latest Government forecasts.

The number of people living by themselves in the district will rise by 4,000 by 2021, while the number of single parents will grow by 3,000.

The information was released the same day retirement homes developer McCarthy and Stone warned that councils needed to be ready for the huge surge in elderly population.

Gary Day, planning director at the company, said: “Central and local government need to give as much priority to promoting adequate housing for older people as they currently give to housing younger people.”


A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We expect councils to use these new household projection figures as part of the ongoing evidence towards their local plans for development, alongside their assessment of the local circumstances in their areas.

“We’re also pulling out all the stops to get Britain building which is why we’re investing £19.5 billion in an affordable homes programme set to deliver 170,000 new homes, increased funding for our Build to Rent scheme to £1 billion to help expand the private rented sector, and why we’ve introduced the Help to Buy scheme to help aspiring homeowners get on the property ladder with a fraction of the deposit they would normally require.”


Bradford Council will release the first draft of its Local Plan this autumn. It will include details on how many houses are needed in the district, and where new homes should be built.

Once the plan is completed, the Council will have more authority to turn down unwanted planning applications if they fall outside the agreed development sites.

One site they have already proposed for inclusion in the plan is the Shipley/Canal Road corridor – a 3,500-house “urban village” called New Bolton Woods. Permission has been granted for 40 new homes which will be part of phase one, and outline permission has been given for another 93.