OPPOSITION continues to mount to plans for a major new housing development on the southern edge of Keighley.

The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (K&WVR) has added its voice to those of residents opposing the outline application for 130 homes on fields south of Goose Cote Lane.

K&WVR chairman Dr Matt Stroh said: “We’re concerned the application will impact negatively on our attractiveness to visitors, and harm our long-term future as well as reducing the amount of tourism revenue generated in the area.”

Since it was first made public the proposals, put forward by GCL developments, have attracted dozens of objections from residents, including opposition from Keighley’s MP John Grogan.

They cite lack of special circumstances to justify building on green belt, destruction of wildlife habitat, additional traffic congestion, inadequate drainage provision, overstretched GPs, schools and dentists, and harm to the scenery enjoyed by locals and visitors.

In a statement accompanying the application, GCL’s agent says the benefits the houses would bring would outweigh the impact of building on green belt.

The firm says 100 of the homes would be offered for market price, with a further 30 to be affordable sheltered dwellings. The agent’s statement notes: “The proposed development is immediately deliverable by a developer with a known track record.

“If outline consent was given, a reserved matter application would be fast tracked and once conditions discharged work on site would commence immediately.

“The proposal would make a significant contribution towards the housing land supply for the district. The application site is located in a sustainable location adjacent to an existing built-up area of a principal centre of Keighley.

“It would also create a significant number of new jobs during the construction period and a boost to the local economy.

“While the application site is located in green belt, it constitutes an infill development next to a principal centre and has good (non-car) accessibility to various services, facilities and public transport.

“Any identified harm to the environment can be minimised with a suitable layout that includes landscape enhancement and ecological and drainage mitigation.”

However, Dr Stroh said: “We’re one of the few heritage railways that can tell a story of social history, travelling past the mills and open spaces that explain very clearly the history of the railway and the area’s role in the industrial revolution.

“While this [objection] may seem like a call to avoid progress and development, it is not. It’s a request to respect the past and to respect the importance of learning from history, which developments such as this take us a step further toward obliterating.”

Keighley West councillor Cath Bacon said people living near the application site had responded with energy and determination to explain why the application should be rejected.

She reiterated her argument that there is substantial brown field land in Keighley that should be developed on first.

The application will be decided by Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee.