Is it time to sacrifice some of Calderdale’s countryside?

Vanishing countryside?
Vanishing countryside?
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To meet new house building targets, vrtually all the new properties in Northowram and Hebden Bridge will have to be in the green belt.

And the same goes for three-quarters of 5,000 properties which it it estimated will have to be built in the Halifax district by 2029

Numerous fields will also have to be concreted over in Holywell Green, Stainland and Southowram, according to the Calderdale Local Plan, which councillors have now cleared for consultation.

Altogether, it is predicted that land will have to be found for at least 10,500 extra homes and that will mean swallowing-up about 1.2 per cent of the green belt.

That might be a small number but it is also a very big area, say the Calderdale Friends of the Earth.

And ward councillor Stephen Baines (Con) says putting 184 properties in the green belt at Northowram will destroy its rural character and over burden local schools and services.

He tried to persuade Labour and Lib-Dem councillors to delay public consultation to allow more time to discuss the implications.

“I don’t believe there are any exceptional circumstances for altering the boundary or the green belt in this area,” said Coun Baines.

But preserving the green belt in one area will mean others districts having to sacrifice a bigger share of the countryside, according Calderdale Council’s economy and environment spokesman Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden).

“If we don’t build homes in Northowram, then where will they go? There is very little flat land available in Calderdale and we have to meet the needs of hundreds of new families every year,” he said.

The council’s Labour leader Tim Swift (Town) said councillors faced a difficult job balancing the needs of Calderdale as a whole with the needs of individual wards. “We have chosen to consult because the issues are so difficult and potentially controversial.”