Plans for future house building in Bradford have been branded a “dog’s breakfast” by a senior Leeds councillor this week.
Leader of Leeds City Council’s opposition Conservatives group Coun Andrew Carter accused Bradford of disorganisation over housing targets, as well as wanting to build on the green belt land between the two cities.
The comments were made during a meeting of Leeds council’s development plans panel during discussions on Bradford’s ongoing partial core strategy review.
A core strategy is a document held by each council which dictates when and where housing and infrastructure should be built in the coming years, which also features housing targets. Bradford’s is currently out to consultation, after the government revised down the city’s annual housing target from 2,476 to 1,703 earlier this summer.
But Coun Carter was unimpressed with the early form of the plans, claiming they could lead to a strain on Leeds’s infrastructure.
He said: “This is a dog’s breakfast – it almost makes our process look quite good.
“I note some of the key areas they want to build on the green belt are along the boundary with Leeds. The reductions they are proposing have little direct impact on Leeds, whereas the areas they are proposing to develop most certainly do.”
He went on to call for assurances that Bradford Council would keep Leeds up to date with any plans that would affect both districts, adding: “They are behind us, but all councillors need to know what is going on. I have a series of major concerns about what is hinted at in these documents, and where we have had to ask for clarification.
“It seems to me that Bradford’s plan is to build on the green belt that separates Leeds from Bradford knowing the chaos that would bring. It would put the traffic problems onto another authority, because they admit where their economy is going and we hopefully know where our economy is going and they are diametrically opposed.
“Consequently you can take it as read that we will have a lot more traffic from another area coming onto our road structure.
“At least now we are clear as to the predicament we will be in.”
A council officer responded to Coun Carter: “The importance of this is that we are putting down a marker. We can only comment on proposals that have been brought forward.
He later added: “Bradford are at an early stage of their core strategy and we are putting down markers to say what we are concerned about.”
Coun Dawn Collins added: “We should be protecting greenbelt boundaries, so that people are comfortable with what authority they come under. To allow this to drift until the last minute, I am very disappointed.”
According to Leeds’s report, Bradford’s core strategy review also proposes a “significant reduction” in gypsy and traveller sites, going from 39 to 10 gypsy and traveller pitches. It added the proposals also include a reduction from seven to five transit pitches and from 45 to zero travelling show-people pitches.
The Leeds report added: “Officers are concerned about the robustness of the evidence in demonstrating realistic levels of need. If insufficient provision is made in Bradford, an implication for Leeds could be greater stress is placed on sites in Leeds.”
Coun Caroline Gruen (Lab) said: “The gypsy and traveller pitches being reduced to such a degree is quite alarming. Should Bradford choose not to take any heed of our comments on that, what are the formal procedures for us to say ‘we are not going to tolerate this’?
“We have developed good working practices when it comes to gypsies and travellers’ pitches and we don’t want anyone to spoil it.”
A Leeds council officer responded: “We do have some concerns around their methodology and how they have calculated their figures. We are suggesting they talk to the gypsy and traveller exchange, who were quite instrumental in our proposals.
“If we did make a representation that is considered at Bradford’s examination, that is a significant risk to Bradford, to have another local authority that’s putting forward a case to the inspector. There will be an incentive on Bradrord’s side to solve things with us if they possibly can.”
A Bradford Council spokesperson, said: “The partial review of our Core Strategy is still ongoing and open to consultation and we work closely with our neighbouring councils on our approach as they do with us.
“These comments are being made by local opposition councillors who don’t represent the formal view of Leeds Council.
“Obviously we’ll engage with all feedback as we take the local plan through the next stages of the process.”