A councillor has questioned whether Bradford Council – which has declared a “climate emergency,” should be approving plans for new petrol stations.
The query was raised while a planning committee were debating a planning application that would see a new petrol filling station, shop and EV charging points built at the former Prince of Wales pub site in Eccleshill.
The plans have proved controversial, with numerous objections from residents and local councillors who feel the new facility would cause major traffic issues at the junction of two busy roads – Harrogate Road and Leeds Road.
The application, by Farook Asmal, was originally due to be decided shortly before Christmas, but the Bradford Area Planning Panel deferred the decision, asking the applicants to provide evidence that the work would not cause the traffic chaos they feared.
At a meeting on Wednesday, members were told that the traffic report provided by the company found that similar developments led to a 14% increase in journeys to the area.
Highways officers had said this was acceptable, and the plans were recommended for approval.
During the discussion on the issue Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) pointed out that the Council had declared a climate emergency in early 2019.
He said: “As we have declared a climate emergency, how does this application sit with us? We’d be granting permission for a business providing fossil fuels.”
Bob Power, city solicitor, replied: “I don’t think the climate emergency declaration would prevent you from making a decision to approve this. Are we saying we shouldn’t be granting permission for any facilities that use petrol, or that everyone should stop driving petrol cars immediately?
“The change can’t happen overnight. I think there has to be some practicality.”
Chair of the Committee Councillor Sinead Engel (Lab, Clayton and Fairweather Green) raised concerns about the safety of pedestrians crossing roads near the new filling station.
Planning officers pointed out that the business had previously had a car park, and plans for shops and a dentist on the same site had bee approved, but not built, before. These uses would also increase traffic around the new empty site.
Councillor Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) spoke on behalf of objectors. Referring to the transport report he said it was not the number of extra vehicles that concerned him, but the movement of those cars at this junction.
He said by suggesting traffic to the site would not be significant: “the application seems to be relying on the fact that the new business won’t be very successful.”
He added: “I accept this is a problem site and something needs to be done, but it is still adjacent to a problem junction, and I don’t think this plan is the answer.”
Four members voted to approve the plans, one voted against and two members abstained.
At the start of the meeting, as with other planning meetings, members had to declare whether they had spoken to anyone involved in any of the applications being discussed.
Councillor Mohammed Amran (Lab, Heaton) said he had been contacted by a resident who objected to the filling station plans. He told the panel: “They were quite rude and tried to pressure me to refuse the application.”
He said he informed them that as a member of the committee he was not able to discuss the application before the meeting.