A NEIGHBOURHOOD plan that will shape future development in Steeton-with-Eastburn and Silsden is going to a public vote – almost seven years after work on the document began.

Bradford Council’s executive has agreed a referendum for May, or whenever the local elections take place.

Steeton-with-Eastburn parish councillors and Silsden Town Council decided in 2014 to develop a joint plan. The final draft was completed late last year.

The 87-page document will help determine issues such as which areas of land should be protected from development – and where development should be encouraged.

Highlighted in the plan is a decline over the years in traditional employment opportunities.

Three of Steeton’s mills have closed and the number of shops in the area has fallen.

Silsden once had 15 textile mills, but all of those have now closed – with many converted into flats or demolished.

“These closures have resulted in a huge decline in the number of jobs available,” according to the plan.

“Silsden was once regarded as being a self-sufficient town but has evolved into a town of commuters.

“There is a good choice of small shops and businesses which serve the Silsden area and do offer some employment, but not in any great number.”

Part of the plan’s aim is to protect and enhance community facilities and identify the best areas for new business developments.

At the executive meeting, council leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe congratulated those involved in producing the document.

Among them was Councillor Rebecca Whitaker, who represents Craven ward on Bradford Council and is deputy mayor with Silsden Town Council.

She told the meeting: “A local plan will afford better protection for our area. We listened to the views of local residents and included their suggestions wherever possible.”

Afterwards, Cllr Whitaker said the plan had taken “a huge amount of time and hard work” to put together but was now coming to fruition.

She added: “Whilst it is a joint plan, it also recognises that there are distinct areas each with their own special identity.

“I hope it is supported at the referendum as not only will it afford greater protection, but will increase the amount of monies received through the Community Infrastructure Levy which will be spent locally.”

She thanked Steeton-with-Eastburn councillors David Mullen and Su Thompson and the Silsden town mayor Councillor Michael O’Dwyer for their work on the plan, the consultants and Bradford Council officers, and local residents.