Idle and Thackley Response to Bradford Council's Local Plan Consultation

New homes on the fields near Simpson Green

Comment and alternative approaches from the Liberal Democrat Councillors representing Idle and Thackley to the Local Area Strategy and Plan for Wrose, Thackley and Idle, Bradford North East


General Comment

The Local Plan offers the district a major opportunity to improve everyone’s health. It is the truth that about 75% of what drives healthy lives is determined by the conditions into which people are born, live and work. We have tried in our contribution to the development Plan consultation to lever change to protect people, the place and the planet and reduce the impact of previous harms.

It was disappointing that the Council launched such an important consultation at a time when people could not get together to discuss the issues. If the Covid pandemic has taught us anything it is that clean air, clean water and open spaces are our most valuable assets.

For us, the plan needs to do no harm to people, places or the planet. We have concentrated our comments on how the plan impacts our ward and how the plan can be focused to increase biodiversity and making more space for nature.


Support for the designation of both Greengates and Five Lane Ends as District Centres and the identification of the eight local centres. We would add to the approach taken to Idle as a local centre a small scale regeneration scheme to include the upgrading of the area adjacent to the central car park. A scheme should include additional space for entertainment, improvements to the car park and additional gardens. A regeneration scheme for the village of Idle should also include improvements to the public realm, support to the heritage buildings, a housing regeneration programme for heritage properties and the restoration of the cobbled surfaces of Walter Street, Louisa Street, Railway Road and Doctor Lane.  The deficit in daytime use should be addressed by the implementation of Council Policy regarding the selling of food and support for former banking properties to become a mix of housing and ground floor office or retail as a strategy to increase daytime footfall.


Support for the extension of car parking at Apperley Bridge, however, the current visual impact is detrimental to the visual amenity of residents with a view across the Aire Valley. Measures to decrease the visual impact such as additional mature planting and low impact lighting should be included in any further scheme. Similarly, the car park is not covered by CCTV which should be addressed. Also in conjunction with the plans to redevelop Esholt as Employment Land access to the station should be created from the Avenue side.

In a general approach to the plan, we would like to see more emphasis on segregated cycle paths, the creation of additional safe walking routes to and from the station at Apperley Bridge and improvements to the canal side for pedestrians.

We would also see the creation of Green Bus shelters and living walls to remove carbon from the highway network with priority given to sites outside schools on major traffic routes.

Planning for Homes

Idle and Thackley ward has over the last twenty years seen significant growth in population and the removal of greenbelt and urban green space for housing. We believe that Idle and Thackley has a significant role to play in the future health of the district which does not require the submission of further land to meet the Districts housing need.

We would support the use of any former industrial land for the building of an additional extra care facility should such land become available. If not then no further land should be released for housing.  

Site NE4/H land adjacent to the canal off Apperley Road/Simpson Green should be removed from the allocation of housing.

Sites NE11/H and NE10H land between the two new developments should both be removed from the allocation of housing.

Site NE8/H land adjacent to Springdale Crescent should be removed from the allocation of housing.

We support the discounting of Thackley SUE ref: SS/007. Agricultural and Greenfield land in Thackley for a residential development of 551 new dwellings. This land is adjacent to protected woodland and should be set aside as green space up to the edge of the existing settlement and proactively identified as land for re-wilding. Development of this site would lead to adverse impacts on risk of flooding by increasing the flow of water towards the River Aire by replacing green fields and soil with hard standing.

An Alternative Approach to Land Use in Idle and Thackley War

This land should be permanently identified as green spaces for re-wilding and the implementation of sustainable draining systems. For a further explanation of this identifier please see the next section.

Planning for the Green Belt, Natural Landscape, and Historic Character

The land to the north lies within the Bradford Green Belt and the Esholt Landscape Character Area. This area is characterised by sloping woodland and pastureland. We support the protection of the wooded inclines and seek to elevate the status and protection of the ancient woodlands and the historic man-made features such as dry-stone walls, ancient tracks (such as the one leading down to Buck Mill Bridge) and footpaths. No development should take place in these wooded areas unless it brings back into use former farm buildings or Buck Mill cottage. We would like a policy change to ensure the protection of dry stone walls and ancient tracks.

The ward has two Quaker graveyards. One is in private ownership in Brown Woods. One is visible to the public and has recently undergone restoration as a Grade 2 listed structure. This must be protected in its landscaping particularly with the protection of the surrounding dry-stone walls and open aspect.

Green Infrastructure, Ecology, Open Space, and Flood Risk

The remaining pasture and floodplain pastures should not be developed. We would like to see the remaining pasture-land and other important open spaces on higher land in the ward be set aside for the development of local nature reserves and wildlife sites and identified as green spaces for re-wilding and the implementation of sustainable draining systems’.  

We believe it is imperative that the Council seeks to increase and develop a number of these areas through this current Development Plan period. This action is vital to improve the natural infrastructure and biodiversity and key to slowing the flow of water to the River Aire and preventing flooding. The majority of the sites identified within this document are within the ownership of the Council so this is achievable.

We have identified such sites in Idle and Thackley ward as being Idle Moor and the sloping green spaces on the incline down to the River Aire at Brackendale and the four previously identified housing sites (NE4/H, NE8/H, NE10/H and NE111/H and the land identified in SUE ref: SS/007.

The plan identified as Figure 5 identifies land in the ward as part of a broad sweep of Green Infrastructure. We would like to like to see the plan amended to show the Green Infrastructure Corridor boundary as being contiguous with the edge of the existing settlements across the ward.

The Green Infrastructure Corridor should also identify where significant links will be developed to create a county park linking to the Leeds West Country Park, Rombalds Moor and the Yorkshire Dales.  This would see the creation of a large area not only capable of making a significant contribution to public health but also through its significant rail links bring the park within the reach of more people who could leave their cars at home.

Site-Specific Comments

Apperley Bridge/Esholt (former filter beds and Waste Water Treatment Works)

Strategic Employment Area (Sites NE22/E and NE23/E)

This site was originally built to improve public health and to deal with the sewerage created by Bradford’s growing population. Now a hundred years later the site presents a major opportunity to deal with the planetary health threat from climate change and pollution of our seas and waterways. This is the largest and most important site in the local plan and whilst the comment in the plan goes some way to outlining what future generations can expect it is not detailed enough or linked through to existing green spaces and waterways to give residents confidence in the benefit of the outcomes for future generations. 

The development framework reads more like an advertising specification than the use of what were public assets, bought by the people of Bradford, than how development on this site will make a real contribution to the health of the planet, reduction in global warming and the technical innovation required to ensure than nothing from the sewerage waste stream enters the river or the atmosphere.

This site represents the most significant site Bradford has brought forward for development. It is undoubtedly a challenge to be more specific however the Council on behalf of its people must do more to ensure this is what this site will achieve. We cannot expect them to accept anything less.

The schedule of works already shows building works to start this year without the detailed Master-Plan being available. The master plan must also include the visual aspect of any development. There is an extensive tree canopy which alongside the contribution it makes to the health of the planet provides visual amenities which must be protected.

There is some housing proposed for the Esholt site with significant environmental benefits. Providing the developers do develop the scheme to the standards they state in the brief then we are supportive of the scheme.

NE22/E Walkhill Farm

This site sits at the entrance to the Strategic Employment Site at Esholt. It can only be brought forward for development if it forms part of the overall master plan, has an enhanced plan for environmental improvements and enhances the setting of the listed property.  This has the potential to be a significant gateway site.

NE2/H Westfield Lane and Kingsway Wrose

Both these sites are difficult to access and see them in the same light as the remainder of the green spaces in the wards which must be protected as contributors to re-wilding and sustainable urban drainage. 

As previously stated.

Site NE4/H land adjacent to the canal off Apperley Road/Simpson Green should be removed from the allocation of housing. Particularly concerned about the impact on the heritage canal basin and properties.

Sites NE11/H and NE10H land between the two new developments should both be removed from the allocation of housing.

Site NE8/H land adjacent to Springdale Crescent should be removed from the allocation of housing.

All three of these sites should be identified as green spaces for re-wilding and the development of sustainable drainage systems.

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