Controversial housing blueprint for Calderdale ‘likely to be found legally compliant and sound’

Subject to modifications, the Planning Inspector who is conducting the examination of Calderdale’s controversial Local Plan has indicated it is likely to be considered “sound”.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 25th March 2022, 6:00 pm

Planning Inspector Katie Child, appointed by the Government as an independent planning inspector to oversee the process, stresses in her letter to the council, published on the authority’s website today, that following the conclusion of a fourth stage of hearings in January that the examination has not yet concluded.

Consultation on some of the main modifications she has requested the council makes has not yet taken place, she says.

But, she writes: “Overall, I consider that, subject to main modifications, the Plan is likely to be capable of being found legally compliant and sound.”

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

The news has been hailed a “major milestone” by a senior councillor.

Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, said the letter was welcomed.

“It means that we are a major step closer to the final adoption of the Local Plan, which will make sure that we are able to manage development in Calderdale effectively over the next few years.

“We particularly welcome her finding that the council’s overall proposals were based on sound evidence.

“We also welcome the changes to the Plan recommended in her letter and believe that these will result in a better Local Plan.

“This will allow us to protect our heritage, our beautiful countryside and the distinctive character of our local communities whilst allowing us to develop the sustainably built homes that we need.

“The Local Plan also ensures we can develop the facilities and infrastructure required to support this growth and secure the investment that we need to do this.

“It is great news for Calderdale,” she said.

Coun Scullion said the next step would be the council preparing, as is always required by local authorities at this stage, a schedule of main modifications requested by the Inspector.

These are the changes which are needed to make sure that the final Local Plan is sound, under the Inspector’s guidance, and will be published for consultation later this year.

The Inspector will need to consider responses received during these consultations before reaching her final conclusions and issuing her final report.

If she does find it to be legally-compliant and sound, the council can then proceed to adopt the Calderdale Local Plan, said Coun Scullion.

In her letter the Inspector says her findings in the communication are without prejudice to her final conclusions on the plan.

Older modifications she requested are not “re-rehearsed” in her latest letter, she says, but new ones are itemised.

Particularly over some sites opposition to the Local Plan has been heavy with opposition councillors and campaign groups arguing their case in the hearings, including residents from Clifton, Brighouse, Greetland, Northowram, Shelf and Todmorden.

Among extra changes the Inspectors feels should be made include reducing the number of homes which might be built at land at Horley Green Road, Claremount, Halifax, reducing the number from 20 to 14 at land off Wheatley Road, Halifax, and removing a 10-home site at Daisy Bank, Halifax, from the plan.

The Inspector also says a 16-home site at Denis’s Field, Woodlands Avenue, Todmorden, should be deleted from the plan.

Neither is a 16-home site at The Gate Farm at Saddleworth Road, Greetland, justified, she says.

But a number of controversial “additional” sites, including some in Northowram, Shelf, Greetland and Brighouse, she says she considers “are suitable and capable of delivery at the point envisaged” (in the timescale of the plan).

The draft Local Plan indicates 13,595 homes will be delivered in Calderdale over its 15-year life into the early 2030s and the council has said it aims to deliver 9,970 homes to Year 10 and then reassess need.

Many of these “additional” sites were put into the plan late in 2019 to allow for growth the council, which has been Labour-controlled over this period, expects will be needed in Calderdale.

Some sites already have planning permission to build new homes.

Housing, employment, transport, town centres and retailing and climate change are all issues addressed in the draft plan.

Among other issues addressed in her latest letter, the Inspector says she is “satisfied there is likely to be scope for extensive mixed-use redevelopment on the expanded allocation site” at land at the back of the former Crosslee factory site at Hipperholme but the extent will be dependent on more transport assessment and air quality monitoring work.

* Support your Halifax Courier by becoming a digital subscriber. You will see 70 per cent fewer ads on stories, meaning faster load times and an overall enhanced user experience. Click here to subscribe