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Fierce debate on homes policy bid in Silsden
2:10pm Saturday 19th October 2013 in Keighley
Bradford Council will look at its policies for affordable housing after a committee said it was “uncomfortable” with plans to offer new homes to people in Silsden before anyone else in the district.
Six of a proposed 26 houses planned as part of a housing development off Daisy Hill – approved last Thursday – will be sold to a social housing provider. But when the application was discussed by the council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee, the idea of giving people in Silsden priority sparked fierce debate.
One councillor claimed it seemed it was designed to “keep people out” of the town.
P A Snell and Sons, a Silsden-based builder behind the application, had agreed to buy the greenfield site from Bradford Council if it got permission for the new estate.
The application had already proved controversial, with Silsden Parish Council and nearly 70 residents objecting for reasons including the concreting over of green land and the traffic congestion the houses might bring.
But the issue that caused most debate among councillors was the condition the affordable houses be offered to people in the town first, and only offered to people outside if there was not enough local demand. Planning officers said this was one of several ways to offer benefits to the people of Silsden in exchange for any harm the new estate would bring.
But Coun Imran Khan (Bowling) said: “I’m not comfortable with this. This is more about keeping people out of Silsden than keeping people in. It is something I just wouldn’t be able to support.”
He added houses should be offered to people who needed them most, wherever they were from.
Coun Roger L’Amie (Baildon) described it as “abhorrent” that greenfield sites were being developed while other brownfield sites in the district lay empty.
Coun Jackie Whiteley (Wharfedale) said giving Silsden residents priority could set a “very dangerous” precedent, adding: “This could have an impact on other applications.”
John Snell, one of the applicants, said approval would safeguard the jobs of 30 builders.
The committee eventually approved the application, four voting for and three against, but asked the council to look again whether it had any power to specify who had priority over the affordable houses.
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