Brighouse garden suburbs and huge housing plans put back by five years

More realistic – but delayed – delivery dates for key Garden Suburb sites means not all homes there may be delivered during a Local Plan’s lifespan.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 12:57 pm
Updated Monday, 11th October 2021, 12:58 pm
Woodhouse Gardens, Brighouse, where there's plans to build a massive new housing estate as part of the Local Plan

Planning Inspector Katie Child, overseeing hearings into the plan, wanted to know whether delivery times, modified since hearings in the spring, at two Garden Suburbs planned for Woodhouse and Thornhill, Brighouse, were now “reasonable”.

The spring hearings heard one agent saying plans were “ready to go” in respect of their portion of the scheme but she was not convinced.

The council’s lead planning officer, Richard Seaman, said in terms of the Garden Suburbs delivery dates had been moved back to 2027-28 from 2023-24.

“That will allow sufficient time to complete important pieces of work for delivery,” he said.

But Julie Bullen of Woodhouse Residents Association, felt delivery times were still “wildly optimistic” and only 35 per cent of homes in the Garden Suburbs might be delivered in the period of the Local Plan (which will run to 2032).

Lyndsey Ashton, a Greetland resident, agreed and said: “Is there any certainty at all the sites in the Elland area will be delivered in the time period?”

Mr Seaman said masterplanning services for the sites had been engaged by Place Services, the trading arm of Essex County Council, and should be completed by the end of March next year, with other processes finished by December, 2022, at the latest.

Timescales now given were predicated on full and detailed, rather than outline, planning applications, said Mr Seaman.

Work had already started on some infrastructure items, for example schools, and some highway work might be delivered ahead of schedule.

The whole approach to the delivery trajectory was injected with the appropriate level of caution, he said.

Calderdale resident Jason Carlton said there were still some funding issues – including time limited pots of money for some highways works – and asked where forward funding which might be needed would come from.

He said later delivery times change the viability of the Garden Suburbs and the plan.

Mr Seaman said in response: “We are very confident in the strategies that we have adopted.”

Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) said the council had no money of its own to fund things as its reserves were at “rock bottom” level.

He believed the numbers of new homes needed were too high.

Tony Perryman, of Clifton Village Neighbourhood Forum said: “Why does the council believe there are exceptional circumstances relating to (release of) green belt when the Garden Suburbs will no longer meet the needs of the plan period?”

Anthony Rae, of Calderdale Friends of the Earth, said if some of the homes would not be delivered in time, what happened to the jobs and population growth the council expected in those years – did they simply just not come?

Mr Seaman said there were variables because the council did not have a command economy.

His colleague John Houston said: “The council is trying to paint the most realistic view of the future it can – that is what planning is about.”