Of course, they can be a positive addition for communities, if well-designed, low carbon and the result of local consultation. We need more homes, and more affordable places to live.
But many of these applications are driven by profit, are high carbon and unsustainable, are unaffordable and not supported by residents, and are therefore not welcome.
A classic example has crossed my desk this week - a proposal for eight standard new apartments on Springhurst Road in Shipley. Another local green space lost in the midst of a close-knit residential area, just off a highly polluted, congested main road.
Here is my objection in full:
I am writing to object to this unwelcome planning application.
First, the proposed three storey block is completely out of character and scale for this site and is not in keeping with the surrounding area. It will dominate the space and overlook and encroach onto the existing terraced houses along Scarborough Road. This will result in an unacceptable loss of privacy and natural light and degrade the amenity of nearby residents.
Second, the proposed development is unimaginative, low quality and seeks to cram housing and car parking spaces into an area that is on a slope with limited access. It will place additional strain on already-stretched public services and schools and increase local road congestion along one of the busiest routes in our District. Its construction will lose yet another area of green open space that is highly valued by local residents and their children.
Indeed, I understand that the developer originally promised that he would leave this green space untouched when his earlier nearby development went ahead. I gather, moreover, that he has cut down three trees in advance of this application; which means, conveniently, that he has been able to claim in Section 15 of the Application Form that there are no trees on the development site or adjacent to the site that might be affected.
Third, environmentally, this development is as reckless and irresponsible as most of unsustainable, profit-driven, poorly-regulated housing developments that we see across the UK. The proposals are not remotely ‘zero carbon’, or low carbon, despite the fact that Bradford Council recently declared a ‘climate emergency’ and claims that it is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our District. The plans incorporate no renewable energy technologies or even electric vehicle charging points or secure cycle parking provision. The development is not car-free; in fact, the plans add fifteen more vehicles to local road traffic. This will further degrade air quality in an area where local families are already exposed to illegally high levels of air pollution. Waste water will be discharged directly into the main sewer because the developer has not bothered to invest in a sustainable drainage system for the site despite our recent history of flooding in Shipley and the growing likelihood of extreme weather events.
I very much hope that this application will be rejected outright by the planning department.
In the event that it is recommended by officers for approval, I ask that it be referred to the Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel so that residents can express their views in person to help the councillors on the committee make a final decision on behalf of the community.
I hope hundreds of residents pile in as well, and that this application is kicked into touch.
It would also help if we had a Green government to strengthen the planning policy framework, give communities more control over their futures and ensure that developers are REQUIRED BY LAW to build climate-friendly, sustainable homes for our children and their children to live in.