Calderdale residents anger of 66-bed 'skyscraper' care home plans

Residents are opposing plans for a 66-bed residential care home on a former school site which they argue would leave them with “a neighbouring skyscraper” on their doorstep.

Torsion Care Ltd’s proposals for the former Hipperholme Grammar Junior School at Wakefield Road, Lightcliffe, to demolish-and-build, will be considered by Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee when it meets at Halifax Town Hall on Tuesday, October 15, from 2pm.

Residents against the care home plans in Calderdale

Residents against the care home plans in Calderdale

This week residents opposed to the proposals met to outline concerns which also include a number of highways and air quality concerns – the site, for which Torsion Homes has permission to build 14 homes, is around 200 metres from the busy Hipperholme crossroads.

Council officers feel the proposals meet local and national planning requirements and are recommending the committee approves the plans, after revisions which they say will help break up the roof line of the building were submitted, saying a care home is “clearly an appropriate use for a residential area.”

The council says it has received 134 letters of objection to the plans, and one of support.

But residents – who say they do not have issues with the previously approved homes proposal – are unconvinced, have the backing of some ward councillors and of Calder Valley Conservative MP Craig Whittaker.

Headteacher of Lightcliffe Primary School Charles Woodbridge expressed concern because of the amount of traffic and resultant pollution.

Planning officers say this is likely to be less than the former school generated but residents disagree, arguing that as the home would have vehicles including emergency vehicles potentially needing to access the home at any time, in addition to staff and visitor vehicle movements, it could be worse, with Hipperholme already subject to Air Quality Management area status due to its poor air quality.

Mr Whittaker said: “I would like to make it clear that I am not against housing development, nor am I objectional to care homes.

“Rather, development of any housing needs to be in the right place and in the right proportion taking into consideration the existing infrastructure in the local area and the impact on the local community.”

He did not believe this was in the right place and had written to the committee with his strongest objections being highways and air pollution concerns.

Ward councillor, Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) has raised concerns over congestion, air quality, the overbearing nature of the building – around 15.7 metres high at the ridge according to submitted plans – and a range of technical issues.

“Hipperholme’s traffic junction is over capacity, and is also Calderdale’s most polluted area.

“Developing in Hipperholme’s immediate vicinity will not improve these matters. This 66-bed proposal would also overbear existing properties.

“Residents’ don’t want a neighbouring skyscraper. I will be at the planning meeting, in solidarity with the community, to oppose this application,” he said.

Resident Lucy Nichol, of adjoining Rock Terrace, said people are also worried traffic movements in the locality would make existing issues with cars damaged due to congestion made worse and they are also concerned about overflow of parked cars.

She had twice had cars written off due to congestion issues and knew of two sets of neighbours similarly affected, she said.

Campaigners said Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) expressed the view that the “monolithic” building would dominate surroundings in a detrimental way and the site could instead be developed for much needed homes.