Does Calderdale need all this new housing?

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I RESPOND with alarm at the call for 15,000 new homes in Calderdale and would need a lot of convincing that it either needs or can cope with this level of new housing.

Given the Government’s changes to planning policy and procedure and the poor quality of much of the new housing to date, the council needs to address the following questions:-

l How many houses were built under the last Labour Government and how far did that go towards meeting the original target? Is this now a moving target?

l 15,000 homes could generate 30,000 more cars on Calderdale’s already congested valley roads. Can Calderdale’s topography and infrastructure cope with this increase in traffic volume? Over the years we have already seen bottlenecks worsen in Hipperholme, West Vale, Sowerby Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge and at Ainley Top.

l Can the council guarantee that developers will produce the right mix of property and not just “executive” homes or the three-storey town houses that have mushroomed everywhere recently?

l At least 3,000 empty properties exist in Calderdale already, both domestic and commercial, not counting the tops of shops which could be converted into ideal, centrally located flats for single people to say nothing of all the empty units on existing industrial estates. Undeveloped brown sites have been left to become weedy and derelict. Should you not be exploiting existing structures and brown sites before encroaching elsewhere?

l Will the new development impinge on the Green Belt? There is a great danger that Calderdale will soon look as messy and unsightly as the north-east Kirklees area sprawling round Dewsbury, Batley and Cleckheaton.

l Are the figures based on need or demand? Are the people wanting to move to Calderdale on other waiting lists? Are other areas expecting an influx of people or just Calderdale? Do Calderdale people want to move to neighbouring authorities or is it all one way? What evidence are the assumptions for migration from area to area based on? And how does this equate with past reality?

l Finally where are all the jobs for all these new people to come from? How are single people going to afford to live alone, given job insecurity?

Already many mill sites have been converted to housing rather than adapted as workplaces, at least half a dozen in the Ripponden and Triangle area alone. Where is the employment/housing balance in such a situation?

The potential despoliation of our few remaining unspoilt valleys and accompanying intensification of pressure on our roads and services fills me with alarm.

John Anderson

Gledhill Farm, Triangle