BRADFORD Council has little power to force landowners to build housing on their sites - a planning chair has said.

Councillor David Warburton was responding to a call for affordable housing to be built on a vacant site in Keighley town centre, rather than in the Long Lee area of the town.

An application to build 61 homes on the site, a field off Long Lee Lane, was approved by the Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee yesterday.

The application had been submitted by Yorkshire Housing, and come a few years after an application to build 58 houses on the same site was approved but never implemented.

The new application would see all the homes classed as affordable - with two thirds being rent to buy and shared ownership and one third “affordable rent”.

At last week's meeting members had been advised to approve the plans.

Keighley town councillor Clare Abbeton spoke in opposition to the scheme, saying: “We’re concerned about this development in Long Lee. Other areas of Long Lee are being developed and all these houses will make the area one big corridor.

“The infrastructure isn’t there. It is a narrow road that is already extremely congested. There are not enough schools in Long Lee and there aren’t enough GPs.

“There are various different areas in Keighley we feel will be much more suitable for affordable housing, including down the bottom of Coney Lane where they were going to build the retail park.”

She was referring to the planned Aire Valley Shopping Centre, a stalled development that has left a huge town centre site empty for a number of years.

Cllr Warburton replied: “We’d love to see that site developed, it is just a case of finding a developer that wants to take on such a site.

“It is out of our hands because it is in private ownership. I’d love to see it developed as a mixed use site, but it is just getting a developer on board.”

The committee also heard from Sophie Brown, Head of Business Development at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. The trust had recommended that if approved, the developer be required to pay £69,236 to the trust.

She argued that new homes would lead to increased hospital admissions and strain on the service.

Planning officers said the houses might lead to populations of an area being re-distributed, but would not lead to an increase in population.

They said it was not local or national planning policy to require developers to pay sums of money to local health trusts when they build housing in an area.

Councillor Alan Wainwright said: “We’re in dire need of affordable housing across Bradford. This site is allocated for housing, it is not Greenbelt. Personally I think it is a good thing.”

Members voted to approve the plans.