Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee approved Olive Branch Properties Ltd’s plans to turn Brighouse Youth Centre at Healey Wood Road, Brighouse, into a 41-bed house of multiple residency.
The application was approved on a casting vote by Chair Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) after councillors were tied at 3-3 over whether to green light or reject the proposals.
A proposal to refuse the plans, tabled by Coun Robert Thornber (Con, Ryburn) and supported by Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland), was defeated.
Most of the concerns voiced by objectors to the plans, including by Rastrick ward councillors Coun Sophie Whittaker (Con), Coun Regan Dickenson (Con) and, at the meeting, Coun Chris Pillai (Con), related to parking.
Objectors doubted whether the 11 spaces which would be provided would be sufficient for a building with so many residents, given there are already serious parking issues, with commuters using nearby Brighouse Rail Station often filling on-street space up from early in the morning.
But officers said it would be difficult to defend a potential planning appeal if the plans were refused.
Highways officer Andrew Dmoch said evidence used by applicants in a number of similar appeals had successfully argued that a majority of people with more modest means who lived in a house of multiple occupation did not have cars.
The applicant’s agent additionally argued that as a town centre location it was ideally suited for public transport links and it was commonplace that town centre developments of any housing type often had no dedicated parking at all.
“It is very easy to live in these places without a car,” he said.
Dedicated spaces which were included in the plans – 11 of them – were in line with the council’s own guidelines, he said.
Coun Bellenger said he thought it was unfair to suggest people could not afford cars.
He had argued that potentially there could be 41 cars or even 82 if rooms were occupied by two people and that had to be considered.
But officers, who believed the plans would not pose problems, said this was evidence – applicants would use existing similar developments for proof – which was used in successful appeals against refusal.
The applicant’s agent said each tenancy would only be let to one person under the terms of agreement.
Coun Pillai had urged councillors to adjourn their decision to examine questions asked about parking issues more closely.
Committee councillors also asked questions on a range of issues including the cycle store, landscaping, access for residents who might have mobility issues and layout.
But with an amendment proposed and seconded by Coun Stephanie Clarke (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) and Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) – to follow officers’ recommendation that the plans be approved – winning out, the development can go-ahead.