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Esholt – A Planning Case Study

Esholt Footbridge

CPRE West Yorkshire assess the plans for the re-development of the Former Water Treatment Works at Esholt and considers if this is positive planning for the future.

Over the past year, plans to redevelop large parts of the Esholt Water Treatment Works (where the River Aire runs to the north-east of Shipley) have been emerging. On the 12th June, the landowner Keyland Developments (the property arm of Yorkshire Water) submitted a planning application to Bradford Metropolitan District Council to develop some of the site.

Hybrid planning application comprising of full planning application to demolish and redevelop the redundant primary tanks with a residential development of 150 dwellings and ancillary community hub, vehicular access, public open space and outline planning application to demolish and redevelop the redundant filter beds for up to 100,000m2 of employment development including means of vehicular access, with all other matters reserved at the Esholt Estate, Esholt.

As we were discussing Esholt, the question of whether we would be able to support this scheme or not was forefront. CPRE is committed to the sustainable re-use of land, and this is a major brownfield site in a potentially accessible location, with Apperley Bridge park-and-ride station just on the southern tip of the site. We’d love to take a positive position and to champion the scheme as the kind of development that we should be looking for in West Yorkshire. The plans are mixed-use, with 100,000 sqft of employment space and 150 homes proposed. The illustrative masterplan shows these built elements using the scarred and derelict parts of the site, and indicates improvements to walking and cycling routes to open up the site for sustainable access.

On the other hand, there are risks. The site has a huge amount of history and heritage, including the Grade II listed Esholt Hall, remnants of a railway that ran through the site, and there is much-loved ancient woodland around it. Just beyond the northern end of the site is the tiny, tranquil village of Esholt. How will these features be affected? The housing is at the opposite end of the site from the railway station – over half an hour’s walk away. Does this really stack up as a walkable neighbourhood?

The issues are complex. It is often not easy to determine what position to take. If it is not easy for us, with a planning consultant available, we realise that understanding the implications of a scheme this big is even harder for those not used to the planning process. With this in mind, we will be writing a series of blog posts here on our website to explore different aspects of what’s being proposed. We will attempt to explain how we go about picking apart a scheme of this nature, and how we assess the evidence to determine our stance on the proposal.

We will be engaging with Keyland Developments about the scheme, and we would like to hear your thoughts about the sites past, present and future. We will be exploring the potential for a scheme to have a positive planning outcome, and investigating what people may be worried about losing. Watch this space, and feel free to join the conversation.