YOUR editorial of November 2 (Note: reproduced at the foot of this file), on the latest housing plan for Silsden, was most welcome.

Interesting to note that this brief but thoughtful piece comprised 199 words – which is 153 words more than those offered at the recent Bradford Council planning meeting to sum up the 800-plus objections submitted by the people of Silsden to the proposed Persimmon development.

That the regard, affection and regular usage of this fine stretch of countryside at Brown Bank/Hawber Cote was so blatantly overlooked during the deliberations has disturbing implications.

When people feel unheard and disempowered in this way, it can lead to unpleasant cynicism and potential disengagement from the wider political process.

Despite heavy demands on its roads and infrastructure, Silsden has stoically accepted that our little town must play its part in meeting housing needs. At present there are at least five major housing developments in progress here.

But the fields of Brown Bank/Hawber Cote, crossed by several popular footpaths, drystone walls and a pleasing tree and hedge-scape of some antiquity, have great resonance for the people of Silsden. This landscape is part of their identity, wellbeing and sense of community.

An eminent local historian has described it as having many features of a typical Yorkshire Dales settlement, the only one of such character in Bradford district. None of which might have been guessed from that fateful meeting of the council’s regulatory and appeals committee on October 26.

As a former journalist covering council issues, I recall that not so long ago it was the required and responsible duty of committee councillors to visit all the sites under their consideration, in order to see for themselves the competing issues at stake and to reach a properly informed decision. Today no such visits are made; no one on the planning committee came to stand in the lovely Hawber Cote fields, despite this being a large and complex site whose destruction by bulldozer and asphalt will change the face of Silsden forever.

The result – by a meagre vote of three votes to two – is not only the imminent despoilation of nature and a treasured local amenity, but a shameful democratic deficit.

Cathy Liddle (in 362 words!), Silsden

* SO, despite the formal objections of more than 800 people, plans for yet more housing at Silsden have been approved.

You can fully understand why residents feel so aggrieved.

Those people who know the area best are encouraged to have their say through formal consultations. Then when they do give their views and voice concerns, that feedback is duly ignored.

Yes, everyone's aware that housing is needed in the district. That isn't disputed.
But that factor alone shouldn't simply override all other considerations when planning applications are put forward.

More greenfield space and natural habitat is now set to disappear beneath concrete.

And even greater strain will be placed on the town's already-overstretched infrastructure.

Residents, and anyone who has to drive through Silsden regularly, know only too well how traffic-choked the roads – particularly the main route – are.

Nearly 140 more homes are only going to add to that problem, creating anxiety for motorists and pedestrians.

In a perfect world, drivers would leap onto public transport or bicycles to get around, but realistically is that going to happen?

If more thought isn't put into the decision process over the plethora of housing schemes put forward, community infrastructures will crumble.