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From Keighley News, 5th October 2017
Written by Annette McIntyre

 A BATTLE to save Wharfedale's green belt is being stepped up in the wake of a government white paper which could see Bradford's housing target slashed by more than 17,000. Campaigners say objective standards for calculation contained in the white paper would reduce the target from 42,100 to 25,000.

 And they claim not a single house would need to be built on the district's green belt if Bradford Council reduced its figures in line with the latest assessment.

An impassioned plea for support was made at a meeting of Ilkley Parish Council this week by Jackie Thompson, a member of Wharfedale Alliance for Sound Plans (Wasp).

Ms Thompson has studied evidence behind the draft plan in depth, including justifications for building 42,100 new homes across the district, and has repeatedly challenged the figure.

She has previously argued that the targets were far higher than they should be and this week she said figures issued by Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid showed that fewer than 25,000 new homes were needed in the Bradford district over the next 15 years.

She stressed: "Bradford - on the basis of 25,000 houses - would not need a single house in the green belt."

Ms Thompson claimed Bradford Council were moving towards green belt review and site allocations on the back of an "excessive" 42,100 housing allocation figure.

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She said she was concerned the council could "race through" the process, and stressed: "That is an issue for us because if they do then developers will have them over a barrel."

She told the meeting she was setting up a group to support Ilkley and Keighley MP John Grogan in putting pressure on Bradford to reduce its target. She asked for at least one member of Ilkley Parish Council to work with Mr Grogan and potentially with other constituents and interested groups.

Last month Mr Grogan said the government consultation could see the number of homes planned for the district cut significantly.

Among the proposals is the adoption of a standard method for calculating local authorities’ housing need. It would take into account factors such as the difference between the average house price in an area and average wages.

The proposed formula would produce a much reduced housing target in Bradford district, according to Mr Grogan.

It is estimated the figure would fall from 2,200 a year, in the recently-adopted local plan, to 1,663. The Government consultation runs until November 9.