Local Plan: 'Land available' for controversial plans to create whole new community and hundreds of homes, says Calderdale Council leader
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Coun Jane Scullion was responding to a question raised at a council meeting about whether or not key land to develop one of the planned projects was available.
Two garden suburbs – at Woodhouse and Thornhill, both near Brighouse – could see around 3,000 new homes built, with the sites having been earmarked in Calderdale’s new Local Plan, which was adopted by the council in the spring.
Coun Sophie Whittaker (Con, Rastrick) said many residents in her ward had many concerns about the Local Plan and the Woodhouse garden community, which would see 1,500 homes built on green belt.
Coun Whittaker welcomed news that community group Clifton Neighbourhood Forum have been given leave to contest the Local Plan in the High Court and praised the “fundraising and hard work” of residents across Calderdale who had helped bring the action.
She said studying land ownership in the Woodhouse masterplanning document, about a third of the land – including a “critical” section of what would be the main access road – appeared to be unregistered land with an absent landowner.
“Engagement with landowners is paramount to the availability of this site – can the council confirm how it has engaged with this landowner, to verify that the land is actually available and that the site can be delivered in its entirety?” she asked.
Coun Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said the council’s property advisors, Ernst and Young, were appointed late in 2021 and have been in regular contact with key landowners via their appointed agents since taking on the role.
“The key landowners, including those with an interest in the land alluded to in the question, have also employed their own agents and the council has been kept informed regularly by Ernst and Young of those landowners’ intention to permit development on their landholdings,” she said.
“These owners, or their appointed representatives, have signed a memorandum of understanding which provides initial comfort to council officers that the land is available for comprehensive delivery,” she said.
“Additionally, we are aware that a legally-binding landowners’ collaborative agreement is at an advanced stage of drafting, which will confirm this approach.”