'No room to swing a cat' apartments given the go-ahead

New apartments in Sowerby Bridge given the green light
New apartments in Sowerby Bridge given the green light

Detailed planning for ten apartments in an area of Sowerby Bridge where neighbours say there is “no room to swing a cat” can go-ahead.

Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee agreed to permit the application, with conditions, for outline permission to demolish 9 Dale Street, Sowerby Bridge, form a new access and build ten apartments.

Many councillors were unhappy with access issues but heard from officers there was not a strong enough case to defend a refusal on those grounds if applicants DLP Planning Limited appealed such a decision to the Planning Inspectorate.

At this stage only access matters were for decision with appearance, landscaping, layout and scale to be the subject of a full application later.

Residents objecting said it was an unsuitable piece of land for new homes, right on the canal bank and leaving no room for children to play.

The area as a whole was over-populated and green land, home to wildlife from bats to foxes, would be lost, said one. Another said “you can’t swing a cat round there.”

A third said the access was via the very narrow Dale Street where cars had to park partly on the pavement. This posed the question as to whether lorries delivering to the homes site could get through.

Sowerby Bridge ward Councillor Mike Payne (Independent Conservative) said the plan brought concerns regarding “awful” access, parking, proximity to the canal and increasing the density of housing.

Around 400 homes were in the vicinity, including two tower blocks, and the only access for all of them was Tower Hill, he said.

Officers conceded there were issues but these could be surmounted, including possibly keeping parking to one side of the road only by “yellow lining” the other side.

Planning Inspectors were reluctant to uphold a planning refusal where there was parking available on a highway, they said.

An agent for the applicant said it was an underused site in private ownership very close to the town centre. Car parking issues could be addressed fully by planning conditions. “It’s a positive contribution to the housing supply,” he said.

Several councillors did not think it fair that residents should be penalised by imposition of yellow lines restricting parking in some places.

But a motion to refuse the application was defeated and the officers’ recommendation that it be approved was passed.