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Greens push Bradford Council to ensure new homes are built to higher standards

Bradford Council has agreed to measure its Local Plan against a set of standards called “Healthy Homes Principles” following a motion by a Green Party councillor.

Matt Edwards standing with Holmewood in the background.Speaking at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday (25th January), Councillor Matt Edwards (Tong Ward) proposed that Bradford Council re-evaluated its local planning policy, which would put people and local communities at the heart of decision making.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Edwards said, “There are far too many examples of the wrong type of housing being built, to the wrong standards, and in the wrong places.

"For decades now, there has been a radical deregulation of planning that has given all of the power to developers and very little to us as councillors – and even less to the residents we represent.

"The current national planning system puts the profits of developers at the forefront of decisions of what is built where.”

“It is staggering that in face of increasing levels of public outrage about this that the current government is even considering further radical de-regulation of planning which will give councillors and local residents even less say. The current national planning system puts the profits of developers at the forefront of decisions of what is built where.”

The Healthy Homes Principles are a set of eleven ‘rules’ put forward by the Town and Country Planning Association, which seek to improve the standard of new homes.

They include rules such as “New Homes should be built within places that prioritise and provide access to sustainable transport and walkable services, including green infrastructure and play space” and “New Homes must be built to design out crime and be secure.”

The motion was amended by the Labour group, who have a majority on the Council, to remove a binding commitment proposed to be put into the new Local Plan document. The Local Plan sets out where houses are to be built in the district and the planning policies they must meet.

Councillor Edwards added, “I am disappointed that Bradford Labour decided to water down the proposals and remove the binding commitment to ensure new homes in Bradford are built to the healthy homes principles and instead, the plan will just ‘review’ the principles against the existing policies .

“However they are at least showing willingness to work with councillors from other groups to improve our Local Plan, which is welcome.”

Dr Hugh Ellis who is Director of Policy at the Town and Country Planning Association said, “‘There is clear evidence that our mental health and physical health depends on the quality of our homes and communities. But there are far too many examples of poor housing being built to the wrong standards and in the wrong places.

Taking a new approach to planning and housing based on human health and wellbeing would improve people’s quality of life, particularly those on low incomes.  It could also generate major savings for the health care system. Substandard housing costs the NHS somewhere in the region of £1.4bn a year”

A similar motion was passed by Shipley Town Council earlier in January after being proposed by Green Party Town Councillor Anna Watson.