Councillors reluctantly approve plans to replace social club…

Councillors reluctantly approve plans to replace social club with shops

COUNCILLORS have reluctantly approved plans to flatten a social club and replace it with a retail development.

Members of Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals committee were discussing plans for the Holme Wood Social Club site at an online meeting on Thursday.

Plans to knock down the club on Broadstone Way and build a food store and three smaller shops in its place have proved hugely controversial, with over 500 people objecting to the loss of the pub.

At the meeting members expressed sympathy for the objectors, but said they had no planning reasons to refuse the plans.

Outcry over plan to demolish club ‘at the heart of Holme Wood’

If they did, members said, the applicant would likely appeal the decision. That appeal would most likely be successful, and could leave the taxpayer with a bill running into the thousands.

The application was discussed almost six hours into Thursday’s six and a half hour meeting – which was bieng streamed online.

Crag Investments had submitted the application, and at the meeting Don McRae, representing the applicants, said the plans would improve the area.

He pointed out that in the Holme Wood and Tong Neighbourhood Plan, produced in 2012, the aim was for this site to be developed for retail. He said: “This goes a little way to achieving the Council’s aspirations to improve Holme Wood.”

Councillor Alan Wainwright (Lab, Tong) said he had been told there was a covenant on the site, which would only allow it to be used for community purposes.

But officers pointed out that even if there were a covenant, the committee’s role was to decide on the planning application on its own merits. If a covenant did emerge, then that would be a separate issue for the applicants.

Many of the objections said the demolition of the social club would lead to the area losing a major community hub.

But planning officers said the building had no particular protection, and was not listed as an asset of community value.

Councillor Russell Brown (Cons, Worth Valley) suggested the application be deferred to allow officers to look into the covenant issue, and adding: “We could also talk to local residents to ask if they want to do something about applying for it to be an asset of community value before it is passed.”

John Eyles, Major Developments Manager, said: “If members are suggesting we might want to hold up a planning application to give the public the chance to apply for this building to become an asset of community value, then that might have implications for the future. If we;re suggesting to the public they should do something to hold up a planning application, then I’m not sure that is something I’d want to defend in an appeal. It would be sneaky, that’s how I’d describe it.”

Chair, Councillor David Warburton (Lab, Wyke) said: “Unfortunately we are in a difficult position. I can’t think of any planning reason not to approve this. If we did my concern is if this went to an appeal we’d lose and it would cost the Council money.”

Councillor Mike Ellis (Cons, Bingley) said: “I do sympathise with the local community. At times like this you want to do what they want you to do.

“Unfortunately if we refuse this we have to come up with valid planning reasons to do it, and I just can’t think of one.”

Three members of the committee voted to approve the plans, and four abstained from voting.