A NEW design guide aims to transform both homes and neighbourhoods in the Keighley area to make them more healthy and sustainable.

Bradford Council has pulled together the latest thinking in housing and urban design to create a “go to” manual for developers.

The hope is homes across the district will be built to the highest possible standards and surrounding streets will offer the best environment for householders, pedestrians and cyclists.

The vision is for more trees and hedgerows, countryside views, electric vehicle charging points, play areas closer to children’s homes, dedicated cycle paths, better disabled access and energy efficiency improvements.

The Bradford Homes and Neighbourhoods Design Guide, which is due to go out to public consultation in coming weeks, has been broadly welcomed by local politicians.

But concerns have been raised by some councillors as well as Keighley housing and environmental campaigners BANDAG.

Cllr Adrian Naylor, who sits on Bradford and Silsden councils, warned that the design guide could inadvertently encourage developers to use more green fields for housing.

He feared developers would need more land to build the same amount of houses due to a demand from Bradford Council that they provide “nice” surroundings with lots of new amenities.

He claimed this could particularly affect rural areas like his own Craven ward, where brownfield land is at a premium and there is a constant demand from developers to build on fields.

Cllr Naylor added: “It’s a great idea to see a minimum standard for the housing and the environment they’re placed in, but we have to make sure this doesn’t mean more housing moving into the greenbelt.”

The draft Design Guide, which is currently in a draft version, focuses on eight priorities: choice, green, inclusive, healthy, distinctive, slopes, efficient and process.

Key changes include 20 mph speed limits, priority for pedestrians and cyclists, cycle parking facilities, and Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points on new homes.

‘Greener’ streets would have more trees, swales and open spaces, and hedgerows for garden boundaries.

There would be greater opportunities for ‘doorstep play’ for young children and toddlers close to their homes

One in 10 new homes would be wheelchair-accessible, and the rest would be adaptable. There would be a 21-metre minimum distance between the windows of neighbouring buildings, and better bin storage.

The draft guide has been developed with a wide range of local organisations and businesses.

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, the council’s portfolio holder for regeneration and planning, described the guide as a step-change for housing development.

He said: “It would set new standards for housing developers to make our community sustainable, safe and healthy place to live. We would expect new developments to have 20mph speed limits as standard, and consider street layouts that give priority to pedestrians and cyclists.

“This guide also looks at how to make our neighbourhoods greener, with more planting and better air quality, and a requirement for developers to provide opportunities for children to play.”

Keighley MP John Grogan said: “Over the next decade these proposed new guidelines could make a real difference to the so-called built environment of our district.

“Calls by constituents for slower speeds for traffic and access to greenspace are always prominent in my postbag. More recently representations for all new housing developments to have provision for charging points for electric cars have become more frequent.”

District councillor Adrian Farley, who represents Keighley West ward where hundreds of houses are being built on Occupation Lane, said he was “really excited” by the guide.

He said: “Bradford is Britain’s youngest city and it’s really important we have good quality housing to keep those young people in the district, to contribute to the economy. It’s important to have right jobs, investment, transport infrastructure and houses.”

David Mullen, chairman of Steeton-with-Eastburn Parish Council, whose villages have both seen major housing developments recently, has seen major , described the guide’s suggestions for green streets as “ludicrous”.

He said: “The guide says to plant trees – but developers prefer to chop them down. People buy houses with trees round them, but don’t like them because they drop leaves on the gardens.”

Cllr Mullen said the design guide did not address more vital issues, such as the lack of affordable housing either for young people who grew up locally or older people who wanted to downsize but still live in their home village.

He said housing developers were increasingly backing out on pledges to build affordable housing, adding:”We should should have upwards of 100 affordable houses on recent estates but we have none.”

Silsden and Bradford councillor Rebecca Whittaker said the design guide’s ideas should be incorporated into all future housing developments, and the council should stand firm against builders backing out of their commitments.

She added: “Developers’ greed should not come before the benefits to our residents. Everyone in the Bradford district, who moves into new housing should expect a quality home; fit for modern living.

“Community green space improves people’s health and wellbeing, and promotes better community ties, greater security and a feeling of belonging.”

Cllr Rebecca Poulsen, who represents the Worth Valley on Bradford Council, welcomed many of the draft guide’s proposals.

She said: “Making new developments improve air quality and energy efficiency are very important as we all try to improve our environment. I particularly welcome the play spaces, planting and more open spaces. So often properties are squeezed together with little thought for the impact on residents’ lives.”

Russell Brown particularly welcomed the guide’s proposals for greener, healthier housing developments, but said it was important to build the houses in the right places.

He said: “We’re building some very nice houses where people can be commuters so there’s no sense of community. Building more houses in the town means people can get to work more easily. This works for the environment. Let’s build for young people, let’s build the houses for the people who need them.”

Barbara Archer, from Keighley campaign group BANDAG, was sceptical the design guide’s suggestions would be followed through.

She said: “The aspirations within the design guide are in the main wishy-washy and seem to be expressed in unmeasurable terms.

“Policies for green corridors, recreation areas and biodiversity already exist yet developers fail to deliver on their environmental planning conditions.”