A MASSIVE drop in the housing target for Keighley could see some villages spared new developments over the next two decades.

Bradford Council has revised its target for new houses to be built in Keighley and surrounding villages betfore 2037, down from 4,500 to 2,800.

The controversial target of 1,200 for Silsden – which in recent years has seen hundreds of new houses built – has been revised downwards to 800.

The council now wants 275 houses built in Haworth instead of 400, 150 in Steeton-with-Eastburn instead of 700, and 200 in Denholme instead of 350.

Other villages that have seen reductions in their target include Cullingworth (350 to 150), Wilsden (200 to 50), Addingham (200 to 75), and Harden and Oxenhope (100 to 25 each).

East Morton and Oakworth, which were originally earmarked for 100 and 200 new homes respectively, have each had their targets reduced to zero.

Local politicians this welcomed the new figures, which they hailed as a more realistic estimation of housing needs in Bradford district over the next few years, and hoped the greenbelt would be protected as a result.

The revised figures represent how many houses the council believes should be built in each area, but developers are free to submit planning applications for new housing estates that would surpass that target.

The revised figures are revealed in a review of the council’s Core Strategy, published this month and subject to public consultation lasting until September 24.

The final document will help map out where future development in the district takes place, and the review sets out the council’s preferred options.

The finished work will set out where in the district housing and business developments should take place.

It sets a target of 1,703 new homes to be built each year of the 15-year period covered by the plan. That figure is down from an earlier version of the plan, which would have required 2,476 homes a year.

The 234-page document also proposes future policies on transport, leisure, retail and environmental issues.

It also focuses on wider urban regeneration, and neighbourhood renewal is laid out in the Core Strategy to include Keighley, Allerton, inner-city areas of Bradford, and several outlying areas of Bradford.

Keighley MP John Grogan lead the positive response to the Core Strategy review document this week.

He said: “As someone who has long campaigned on a cross-party basis for more emphasis on building on brownfield land and protecting the greenbelt, I welcome this significant change in policy by Bradford Council.

“A reduction in housing targets by about a third gives a more realistic plan. As sites in Wharfedale and Airedale are allocated for development I will continue to work with local campaign groups to minimise any enchroachment on the greenbelt.”

District councillor Rebecca Poulsen also described the new housing figures as more realistic than previous targets.

She said: “Conservative councillors have been asking for the housing figures to be reviewed for a long time as we believed the evidence showed demand was lower than originally predicted.

“In Worth Valley ward we will see a sizeable reduction from 700 to 300. This is good news as local infrastructure cannot cope with 700 extra homes.

“Many people have been increasingly concerned of the impact on the green belt, and when site allocations are carried out I hope that the greenbelt will be protected as a priority.”

Adrian Naylor, a Silsden and Bradford councillor, said the “overestimated” previous figures were now down to the level suggested by councillors including himself several years ago.

He expressed concern about the Core Strategy’s reduction in proposed employment land to only 15 hectares in the Keighley area.

He said: “We’ll end up with housing at one end of the district and people will have to commute to the other end for work.

“This will force more people onto the road. Public transport isn’t up to the task, and it will play havoc with the clean air initiative.”

Cllr Naylor said the new target for Steeton-with-Eastburn – down from 700 to 150 – could well be met before the Core Strategy is finalised, due to the amount of housing currently being built in the parish.

Bradford and Silsden councillor Rebecca Whitaker welcomed the proposed reduction in housing numbers for her Craven ward, but wanted clarification on which housing developments had already been included in the revised numbers.

She said: “I am hoping these reduced numbers will mean that there is far less chance of housing needing to be built on Green Belt in the Craven ward.

“It seems to be more sensible to build the housing in parts of the Bradford area where they are actually required, and where there is population growth.”

Cllr Whitaker said the type of housing was also important, particularly affordable housing to help younger residents of Craven get on the housing ladder, and accommodation for older people.

The Core Strategy states that the number of new homes needed for the people of the Bradford district per year has been reduced from 2,476 to 1,703. All areas will see a reduction in the housing targets with the exception of the city centre which sees an increase.

Over 70 per cent of the new houses that are built over the next 17 years will be in the Bradford city area, 18 per cent within Airedale, 5.6 per cent within the South Pennine towns and villages and 5.4 per cent within Wharfedale.

The council this month began public consultation on the Core Strategy review document, and over the coming weeks the will hold workshops to help people get to grips with the document before they have their say on it.

Information about the Core Strategy and how people can have their say is on the council’s website bradford.gov.uk (search for Core Strategy Partial Review).

The document can be viewed during opening hours at several labs including Keighley, Bingley, Ilkley and Shipley, as well as Keighley Town Hall.

People can email planning.policy@bradford.gov.uk, (include Core Strategy Preferred Options Consultation in the subject) or write to City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Local Plan Team, 4th Floor, Britannia House, Hall Ings, Bradford BD1 1HX.

There will be a drop-in session at Central Hall Keighley on August 21, 3.30pm to 7.30pm.

There will also a series of workshops on specific topics with a panel, presentations and discussions with key partners.

A session on Economy and Jobs will be held on September 17 from 2pm to 4pm at Victoria Hall, Keighley. Sessions on Housing and Infrastructure, the Environment, and Transport and Movement will be held elsewhere. Email planning.policy@bradford.gov.uk for further information and to book a place.