The controversial £62.5m scheme to redevelop the Copley Valley has been recommended for approval by council officials. They say they are “mindful to permit the development” – subject to legal agreement.
The application will be heard and voted on by councillors on the planning committee on Tuesday. A total of 781 objections have been lodged with Calderdale Council, with just two letters of support.
Diane Wade, head of the opposition group Copley Environmental Protection, said she was furious. She said she would be amazed if councillors ignored the officials and refused the development.
“In this non-democratic process, 750 people have voted against this scheme and they have taken no notice,” she said. She accused the council of “working in the ways of the Mafia.”
She said: “Their tactics are the same. It’s just unbelievable. It can’t be right. Why, in this country do we sit here like Third World residents who have dictators in power like Mugabe or whoever?
“We don’t have the power to do anything.”
She went on: “I don’t know where there’s any democracy in this country. The leadership of that council has to be in question. The officers lead the council, not the other way round.” she said.
The application by developers Genr8 asks for both full planning permission for engineering works, including de-contaminating the land and alleviating flood risks as well as outline planning permission for e mixed development of the site.
Developers Genr8 say they would contribute £90,000 towards transport and £145,000 towards education needs created by the development. They would not pay anything towards any open space requirements and the scheme will not include any affordable housing. A development of this size would normally need 20 per cent of the homes to be affordable.
Director of Children and Young People’s service Janet Donaldson said as local schools were already full another £1.1m would be needed to provide the necessary extra education infrastructure. The developers have agreed to pay around a tenth of that - £145,000.
The Travel Plan fund would be spent by a steering group to find the most appropriate way of encouraging non-car travel.
The plans will see the disused site made include four different zones. “The Island” will be built on the former Sterne Mill site. It will include up to 200 homes with a mix of house-types. “The Hub” will include two blocks of leisure facilities. It includes a restaurant, bar, shop as well as offices, a gym and day nursery. This area will also include 26 apartments. The South Bank area will include between six and 11 buildings, totalling 2.6 hectares.
The remaining land will be turned into a new nature reserve totalling 15 acres, washland and open space.
The report, by head of planning Geoff Willerton, said: “It is rare for a planning application to offer as many material benefits to the area.”
The scheme has both Yorkshire Forward and council funding.