More space needed to deliver new homes as part of Calderdale housing master plan

More space is needed to deliver homes in Calderdale
More space is needed to deliver homes in Calderdale

More space in Calderdale will have to be found in its Local Plan to build extra homes deemed necessary if the blueprint is to be approved.

The second phase of hearings into the Local Plan, which will shape where people might live or work in the district between now and mid 2030s, will begin later this year or early next year.

On Monday (October 14), Calderdale Council’s Cabinet are being asked to approve an approach which will address concerns by Planning Inspector Katie Child after the first phase of hearings this summer that there was a discrepancy between the number of jobs expected to be created in Calderdale over that period and sites where homes can be built to house some of the new workers.

The inspector is not convinced the number of new homes included in the draft Local Plan will be in tune with expected growth in employment.

This is likely to bring extra sites, or designation of sites, into play, particularly in Northowram, Shelf, Elland, Brighouse and Halifax – with some at Mytholmroyd and Todmorden adding numbers too.

The Cabinet meeting follows a lengthy meeting of the Cabinet Local Plan Working Party this week, at which councillors and members of the public voiced opinions including opposition to increased total.

These included concerns about the increased numbers, similar worries over some individual sites, including Thornhills at Brighouse, some of the reasoning for inclusion of some numbers and some sites, and not taking the option of revisiting the economic strategy to produce lower job growth numbers.

Two options for reaching the new total have been submitted to cabinet, one using the national “standard” method of calculation and a second which is described as a “sustainable” option and which Cabinet is urged to support.

Planning officers say this option demonstrates ambition and optimism and meets national guidelines that the plan should be prepared positively, that it should support economic growth and be proactive in doing so.

It involves some areas previously marked for industry as “mixed use” meaning homes could be built on them – the would be at next to Mill Royd Street, Brighouse, Top Land at Cragg Vale and land off Halifax Road at Todmorden – understood to be the former Rose Street medical centre site.

This would protect green belt land as much as possible, councillors were told.

If Cabinet backs this option, it will trigger six weeks of consultation on the new sites through October and November.

Concerns over individual sites will be considered by the inspector when the phase two hearings begin.

Calderdale’s Draft Local Plan, which was published early in 2018, saw the council choose the lowest number of new homes likely to win approval – 12,600, or 840 built each year for the 15-year life of the plan, an overall total which would be reduced to around 9,600 when sites which have planning permission but homes have not yet been built are taken into account.

Government has told all councils they have to produce a Local Plan, which an inspector it has appointed will examine for soundness and approve or reject.

Ultimately if councils’ plans are not approved Government will take control of the process.

In the two options put before Calderdale councillors at scrutiny and to Cabinet, sites will have to be found for 15,600 homes, or 1,040 built each year, less developments for which approval has been given but homes not yet built.

The council’s Planning Lead, Richard Seaman, said the option chosen had to address the inspector’s concern or it was unlikely the plan would be approved.

“Decisions that will need to be taken by members ultimately at Cabinet come down to the need to agree an approach the inspector will find sound,” he said.

The letter Ms Child sent to the council found its approach to economic and employment growth sound but raised the discrepancy which the council had to address and to which options were limited.

Maintaining expected economic growth meant around 1,040 new homes would have to be developed to keep pace with an expected baseline figure of 10,318 new jobs.

Mr Seaman said the jobs figures were calculated from a number of factors not all in the council’s control, for example some subject to economic growth driven through partnerships at West Yorkshire level.