Background



Craig: Calderdale’s Local Development Plan is Unsound, Unfair, and Not Fit For Purpose

‘Calderdale Council’s Local Development Plan which outlines provision for 12 600 new houses across the Borough is unsound, unfair and not fit for purpose’, says Craig.

The Labour Cabinet approved the Local Development Plan at a meeting on 11th June. The plan will now go before all Councillors at a Special Meeting of the Council to be held on 21st June. The Plan outlines the sites for thousands of new houses and additional land for industry over a 15 year period to 2033.

‘Along with the Conservative Group on Calderdale Council, I have voiced serious concerns about the Plan since it was published in its draft form last summer. We have consistently stated that the basis of the plan is deeply flawed and therefore that the plan is fundamentally unsound. The Labour Cabinet are keen to push through a ramshackled plan, of which parts are highly likely to be thrown out by the independent inspectors at the Examination stage. It’s clear this plan is not fit for purpose’, says Craig.

The Conservative Group on the Council, and Craig, have highlighted some of the following concerns with the final plan:

– Lack of detail in relation to infrastructure to support new development. The Council’s Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IPD) is weak and badly lacking in detail – it does not clearly demonstrate that substantial development in Eastern Calderdale is deliverable because it does not clearly illustrate how, where, and when the highway improvements, additional schools, health facilities, and other services needed to support development will be delivered and funded by the Council.

– Deeply unfair nature of the Plan. The vast majority of the new housing will take place in ‘Eastern Calderdale’: in particular, Brighouse, Northowram, Shelf, Elland & Greetland. For example, over 4500 of the 9000 new houses (which the plan lists sites for) will be in the Brighouse, Rastrick & Hipperholme area; despite these areas only representing a fraction of the Borough’s total population. The plan places a disproportionate amount of housing growth on a small number of areas which is not only unfair, but also undeliverable.

– Impact upon the environment. Although the Local Plan allocates development on a relatively small percentage of the total amount of Green Belt land in Calderdale, in areas such as Brighouse, Northowram and Shelf, the proportion of greenfield and Green Belt land lost to development is very high. Furthermore, environmental concerns such as flooding in some areas, air quality in places such as Brighouse, Hipperholme and Sowerby Bridge, and the ecological impacts have not been adequately addressed in the plan.

– Flawed Consultation Process. Over 8000 individual comments came forward from members of the public in last year’s consultation. We understand that the Council have struggled to properly evaluate all of these comments and we don’t feel that the final plan adequately reflects the views of the public. In addition to this, a number of sites for housing development are in the final plan despite not being proposed and subject to consultation at an earlier stage, as per planning guidelines.

– Cross boundary working with other Councils. Calderdale has a ‘duty to cooperate’ with neighbouring councils and to ensure that Local Plan’s in both areas work in tandem. Kirklees’ Local Plan includes very large housing and industrial development in North Huddersfield (Bradley) and Cooper Bridge (near Mirfield) which are located adjacent to the largest proposed housing and industrial developments in Calderdale. This will result in exponential and unsustainable development in the Brighouse-Huddersfield- Mirfield corridor.

– Council’s handling of the plan process. Calderdale is one of the last councils (out of 400 nationally) to publish a final plan with the Government having criticised Calderdale’s handling of the plan on several previous occasions. Calderdale’s plan is many years late; has cost the Council well in excess of its estimated budget (over £10 million in total); and the process of producing the plan has been routinely criticised by local planning groups and residents.

– Site assessment process. The process of evaluating the sites which are proposed for development has been criticised by Councillors and the public. The arbitrary formula used by planning officers has been repeatedly questioned and this has resulted in sites being included within the plan which are clearly unsuitable for development. For example, in the draft plan, a former asbestos tip was included as a housing site.

– Doesn’t take account of the needs of different communities. Whilst some communities (such as Brighouse, Rastrick and Northowram) are accommodating far more development than their size would suggest is sustainable or appropriate, other communities are missing out on a unique opportunity for the investment that strategic development and additional infrastructure could bring. For example, comparatively deprived parts of the borough such as parts of Todmorden have missed out on the regeneration and economic development that a fair level of additional housing and business development could bring, whilst much of the Upper Calder Valley does not receive any investment to regenerate town centres (of e.g. Todmorden), to tackle infrastructure issues, or provide much needed affordable housing.

‘A Combination of these factors, and especially the lack of detail with regards to infrastructure requirements in Eastern Calderdale, renders the whole plan as unsound – the Council simply cannot demonstrate that it can deliver the housing and industrial development which the plan outlines in a sustainable and measured way without impact upon the quality of life of local people; as such, we feel that it is likely that the independent inspectors will raise concerns with parts of the plan which they will consider to be unfit for purpose. This plan fails the different communities of Calderdale and we cannot support it. All Conservative Councillors will be voting against the plan when it comes before Council’, said Cllr Scott Benton, Conservative Group Leader on Calderdale Council.

A protest against the Local Plan by residents has been organised to take place outside Halifax Town Hall on Thursday 21st June at 5pm, just hours before Local Councillors vote on whether to accept the Plan. We welcome the support of all residents in Calderdale at this protest.


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