Planning Inspector Katie Child, who is overseeing the examination of Calderdale’s draft Local Plan and will decide whether or not it is sound and should be enacted, has said Denis’s Field, off Woodlands Avenue, Todmorden, should be deleted from the plan as a potential site for new homes.
Ms Child said ultimately she did not think the benefit of new homes outweighed the loss of amenity which would result.
Campaigners have welcomed her letter to Calderdale Council in which she gave some of her reasoning.
Barry Cook, chairman of the Denis’ Field Friends and Growers Group, said plans were in place to further improve the field, which is widely used by the community and includes a play area and growing spaces, and people could contribute their views at an open day in a few weeks’ time.
“We’re thrilled to bits – the field is now safe for the community to use and enjoy.
“It’s a fantastic facility and we are looking forward to making it even better, with more benches, more wildflowers, and a path to go around the edge of the field, so people can still enjoy it in wet weather.
“We’re also looking at better drainage to improve the kickabout area and to make the whole site accessible for disabled people.
“We’d just like to thank the Inspector for her professionalism in weighing up the costs of losing the field against the benefits of new housing,” he said.
Mr Cook said anybody wishing to have their say about improving Denis’ Field should come along to the Queen’s Jubilee Open Day which is being held there on Saturday, June 4.
Ms Child said based on the evidence before her she considered the proposed loss of Denis’s Field and redevelopment for housing would detract from the character and appearance of this part of the Stansfield Hall Road area.
At the second stage of hearings into the Local Plan in autumn 2020, the council said there were three key reasons why the site had been put in the draft plan – there were limited viable spaces in Todmorden, it was the only council-owned site and, as such, it was potentially capable of providing affordable homes, possibly through the council’s partnership with Together Housing.
The proposal included replacing some of the leisure facilities on an adjacent alternate site but in her letter Ms Child said this had a number of drawbacks including the topography limiting the “kickabout” area and dividing a community orchard from the rest of the open space.
Ms Child said: “Whilst some improvements such as better play equipment could be secured, and additional housing/affordable housing would be facilitated, I am not persuaded these would outweigh the disbenefits or that replacement open space provision would be equivalent or better.
“Overall, it is concluded that housing allocation LP901 and associated relocation of the open space to LP902 is not soundly based and the proposals should be deleted from the Plan.“
The Government requires all local authorities to have a Local Plan and appoints the Inspectors who oversee the process.