A protest against adoption of the Local Plan is being organised by Calderdale Council’s opposition Conservative group ahead of a crunch vote next week.
Conservative group leader Councillor Scott Benton (Brighouse) said the protest had been organised from 5pm at Halifax Town Hall, where, from 6pm on Thursday, June 21, councillors will vote whether or not to accept the plan.
Last night (Monday) the council’s Cabinet agreed to approve the plan, which will allocate housing and business development space in Calderdale for the next 15 years, and recommended it to next week’s special Extraordinary Council meeting.
The Conservatives believe the plan is unsound, unfair and not fit for purpose, said Coun Benton, who added: “We welcome the support of all residents in Calderdale at this protest.”
At Cabinet, Councillor Sutherland (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden), who has the Planning, Housing and Environment portfolio, said the plan for homes and industry was an exciting prospect that would allow the borough to maximise its potential, becoming a place where people would want to live, work and visit, with Garden Suburbs planned at Thornhills, Rastrick, and Woodhouse, Brighouse, “a fantastic opportunity”.
It balanced the need to provide potential sites for new homes with protecting Calderdale’s green belt and was “a bold strategy and well thought through”.
The Conservatives disagree, arguing it lacks detail in relation to infrastructure to support development, particularly in developments in East Calderdale – Brighouse, Northowram, Shelf, Elland and Greetland – which will carry the weight of new homes which might be built over the next 15 years.
More than 4,500 of the 9,000 new homes expected to be needed could be built in the Brighouse, Rastrick and Hipperholme areas alone, said Coun Benton.
“We have consistently stated that the basis of the plan is deeply flawed and therefore that the plan is fundamentally unsound.
“It’s clear this plan is not fit for purpose which is why we’ll be voting against this plan,” said Coun Benton.
Green belt land would be affected in areas such as Brighouse, Northowram and Shelf, the group did not feel that the final plan adequately reflects the views of the public and cross boundary working with other councils such as Kirklees seemed only to have resulted in exponential and unsustainable development in the Brighouse-Huddersfield- Mirfield corridor.
Different needs of other communities were not being met – comparatively deprived parts of the borough such as North Halifax have missed out on the regeneration and economic development that a fair level of additional housing and business development could bring, whilst much of the Upper Calder Valley does not receive any investment to regenerate town centres, tackle infrastructure issues, or provide much needed affordable housing, said Coun Benton.
“We feel that it is likely that the independent inspectors will raise concerns with parts of the plan which they will consider to be unfit for purpose.
“This plan fails the different communities of Calderdale and we cannot support it” said Coun Benton.
Cabinet have recommended to the council that the draft Local Plan should be published at 9am on Friday, August 10.
Councillors will also be asked to approve a six week period when it will be possible to make formal representations, or comments, on the plan following its publication.
This period for representations will close at 5pm on Monday, September 24.