Council ‘set homework’ over flooding risk as Wharfedale people contest Core Strategy changes

Report by Amanda Greaves

BRADFORD Council has been set ‘homework’ by a Government planning inspector after hearings examining modifications to the Core Strategy of its Local Plan.

Councillors and representatives of Wharfedale campaign groups and organisations spoke at the hearings in Saltaire last week, raising concerns about flooding risk in the valley and the impact of increased housebuilding figures for Ilkley, Burley-in-Wharfedale and Menston.

The week ended with planning inspector, Stephen Pratt, asking the authority to do some homework on a key flood risk assessment document and send it on to him in the coming days.

Hearings were called to examine the changes made by Bradford Council officers to the central Core Strategy of the Local Plan – the rulebook for planning and development across the district, which will remain in use until 2030.

Modifications included hundreds of additional proposed new homes increasing existing figures for Wharfedale, despite the concerns of residents about further development in the flood-prone valley.

The council made the changes after its figures came under attack from a consortium of developers during Core Strategy hearings in front of the same inspector last year.

Top planning barrister, James Strachan QC, again spoke on behalf of developers at last week’s hearings, succeeding in getting the council to revise wording in the Core Strategy regarding Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) rules.

Dr Steve Ellams, of Wharfedale and Airedale Review Development (WARD) and Menston Action Group (MAG), fears this could open the door to more extensive development in green areas bordering the edge of Rombalds Moor.

But he was heartened by the strong case put forward by Wharfedale residents at last week’s hearings, and felt the inspector had listened carefully to local concerns.

He said: “The representation was very good.

“I think the inspector couldn’t be anything other than impressed by the numbers. He certainly was very attentive and certainly very aware of the situation.

“He said he travelled up and down on the railway – he covered the area pretty well. He did it by road, he did it by rail, and he was very aware of the flooding and drainage issues.”

Among those who spoke last week was Professor David Rhodes, who carried out an extensive flood risk survey on behalf of MAG, and recently presented a novel solution to flooding in the valley – using Rombalds Moor to soak up and slowly release rainwater – during a talk in Menston.

Prof Rhodes’ talk, which was posted online, has attracted attention from researchers and groups from as far afield as Australia.

As the wait now begins to find out if the inspector accepts Bradford Council’s modifications to the Core Strategy, the local authority has begun a public consultation on land allocation for development. This plan, which marks green fields across Wharfedale as potential sites for development, can be found via the bradford.gov.uk website.

LOCAL PLAN FOR THE BRADFORD DISTRICT – ALLOCATIONS DEVELOPMENT PLAN DOCUMENT

As you will know the Council is in the process of producing a new Local Plan for the District which will eventually replace the current statutory development plan (the Replacement Unitary Development Plan). You may also be aware that the Local Plan comprises several separate documents which are at different stages of preparation.

I am now writing to inform you that work has commenced on another Local Plan document, the Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD), and the Council are beginning a period of ‘Issues and Options’ consultation on Tuesday the 10th May.

The Allocations DPD is a key planning document as it will identify and allocate sites which will meet the district’s needs for new homes, jobs and infrastructure. It will also designate key areas of amenity and environmental value such as green spaces and wildlife areas so that they are protected and enhanced. The Allocations DPD will cover the majority of the district but please note it does not cover or include policies or allocations for the Bradford City Centre or Shipley & Canal Road Corridor areas which are the subject of separate Plans.

When adopted, the Allocations DPD, will contribute towards decisions on individual planning applications.

The Allocations DPD is required to implement the policies of the Council’s Core Strategy and accord with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework. The Council are therefore not consulting or inviting comments on matters which are the subject of the Core Strategy such as how many homes are needed and should be built in each settlement.

Aim of this consultation

The Council welcomes the submission of comments on any matters but at this early stage are particularly keen to receive comments on:

  • The intended scope of the plan – what it will cover;
  • The sites which should be allocated to meet development needs and targets;
  • The greenspaces and environmental areas which should be protected; and
  • Any information, evidence, studies or data which the Council should consider.

A range of supporting material has been published on the Council’s website to inform this process. In particular documents and maps have been produced to show the current list of potential development sites on an area by area basis. There is an interactive map of the district on the website which shows the sites in more detail.

The Council welcome comments on the suitability, or otherwise, of these sites for development and what type of development would be appropriate. However it has also issued a ‘Call For Sites’ which means it would welcome the submission of additional site options. Such sites should be deliverable and be a minimum of 0.2ha in size.

The main documents which you will find online include:

  • A ‘Background and Scope’ paper which indicates the things the Plan will cover;
  • Background papers which include lists and maps both of possible sites and also currently designated green spaces;
  • A ‘Call For Sites Suggestion Form’ – the Council encourage those suggesting additional sites to use this as it ensures that the Council have the right information to begin assessing them;
  • A ‘Call For Evidence’ paper;

The material for the Allocations DPD can be viewed from Tuesday 10th May at: http://www.bradford.gov.uk/bmdc/the_environment/planning_service/local_development_framework/development_plan_documents.htm

Deposit Locations

The key consultation documents are available for inspection at the following deposit locations:

  • Principal Planning Office: at Jacob’s Well, Bradford. Please note the service is due to re-locate to Britannia House in June so materials will be transferred there;
  • Main libraries: Bradford Local Studies Library, Bradford City Library, Shipley, Bingley, Keighley and Ilkley.
  • Town Halls & One Stop Shops: at Shipley1, Keighley and Ilkley.

People are free to download and print their own copies of the consultation documents and supporting documents as they require.

How You Can Comment

There are several ways in which comments can be submitted. This includes a standard form which can be downloaded or via the Interactive map which has a facility to make comments. Comments can be submitted by post or by e-mail. The Council strongly encourages the use of electronic and online methods of submission as it makes the processing and response to them quicker and more efficient.

Representations should be submitted to:

planning.policy@bradford.gov.uk or in writing to:

Local Plans Group, 2nd Floor South, Jacobs Well, Manchester Road, Bradford, BD1 5RW.

Comments and responses must be received by 5pm on Tuesday 19th July 2016

The Council appreciates that the Local Planning process is complex so please feel free to contact the Council’s staff at the contact details below if you require any information or wish to receive advice or assistance on how to submit your comments or use the online interactive map.

Please note – submitted comments including names and postal addresses cannot be kept confidential as the Council are required by law to make these available. However your telephone number, e-mail address and signature will not be published. Further details of the data protection exemptions which the Council has to follow under planning legislation is included on the comment forms.

Any comments submitted may be accompanied by a request to be notified of forthcoming stages including:

  • when the Allocations DPD is submitted for independent examination by the Planning Inspectorate and
  • of the publication of the recommendations of the person appointed to carry out the examination; and
  • on the adoption of the DPD.

Group Responses

Where there are groups who share a common view on how they wish to see the Plan changed, it would be very helpful for that group to submit a single representation which represents the view of the group, rather than separate individual representations which repeat the same points.  In such cases the group should indicate how many people it is representing and how the representation has been authorised.

What Happens Next?

Following the period for representations the Council will record and consider each of the comments, assess the issues raised, gather evidence and assess all site options. It will then prepare a preliminary draft Plan for further consultation.

Should you have any further queries about the Plan or the forthcoming process please contact my colleague Simon Latimer at simon.latimer@bradford.gov.uk

or by telephone (01274) 434606.

Should you require assistance in accessing the online material or using the online maps and questionnaire please feel free to contact my colleague Leah Midgley at (01274) 434461 or by e-mail to leah.midgley@bradford.gov.uk

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Marshall

Planning & Transport Strategy Manager