Opposition remains to a major but controversial 267-homes plan for part of Calderdale that will be built on land around a school.
In November last year Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee deferred an application from Engle, Yorkshire Housing and Thornhill Estates to develop the homes at land at New Hey Road, Delf Hill, Shannon Road and Mount Lane at Rastrick because they were unhappy at elements of the plan including highways issues, size and design of the homes and their energy efficiency.
After the decision to allow further discussions to iron out issues, the applicants have submitted amended plans which, like the originals, the council’s planning officers are recommending for approval.
The committee will make their decision when it meets next Tuesday, January 14, at Halifax Town Hall from 5pm.
The plans have generated objections which concerned residents and ward councillors who are still far from convinced the revisions are satisfactory.
A petition containing 208 signatures objecting to the plans joined 55 letters of objection to the original application and an additional six letters of objection have been received over the amended proposals.
Although the application is technically in the council’s Elland ward it perhaps effects most heavily Rastrick ward and councillors from both are still expressing reservations.
Rastrick Neighbourhood Forum (RNF) says it accepts the need for development and provision for new homes, businesses and community facilities but this had to be “coherent, sustainable, contributing and improving the environment” and believed it fell short of those goals.
Elland ward councillors Victoria Porritt (Lab) and Angie Gallagher (Lab) and Rastrick ward councillors Sophie Whittaker (Con) and Regan Dickenson (Con) – with Chris Pillai (Con) opposing the application when it last came before the committee – have all asked for the application to come back before committee if the recommendation is to approve, saying some important questions remain unanswered or inadequately addressed.
Nick Midgley, of RNF, said members felt the amended application did not adequately address raised by the committee in November and they remained unsatisfied by responses over questions including highways issues, environmental concerns, sense of place and design.
“The over-riding concern within the context of development is that it is too big for the site – it takes out too much green space, damages the ecology and has a negative impact on highways and transport in the areas around Rastrick,” he said.
But planning officers in the 50-page briefing paper to councillors say concerns have been adequately met by the applicants subject to conditions which include addressing highways and biodiversity concerns, and overall are acceptable.
They also say the combination of a pressing annual affordable housing need, together with significant under-delivery in recent years adds further weight to the benefits of the scheme, in accordance with presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in national planning policy guidelines.
Mr Midgley and the neighbourhood forum believe being behind on quota has a bearing on the issue, he said.
“One of the concerns we have is that the local authority have got an agenda to achieve an amount of housing because they are so behind on target.
“From our point of view we don’t think there has been adequate local consultation and listening to local concerns.
“Councillors raised legitimate issues at the last meeting and this application hasn’t really addressed those,” he said.
For their part officers say that subject to conditions and the section 106 agreement – which would mean the applicant contributing funds to cover highways and diversity matters – the council should be mindful to permit the proposals because it meets both its policies and national framework guidelines.