Calderdale campaigners against plans to build 1,500 homes that will destroy distinctive aspect of historic community

Roads, schools and flooding issues were debated when a key “Garden Suburb” site was the focus of ongoing hearings into Calderdale Council’s draft Local Plan.

Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 10:03 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 10:06 am

The plan will decide where homes and businesses might be built in Calderdale up to the mid 2030s, with more than 1,500 of around 9,700 potentially being built in the borough as a whole being earmarked for the Thornhills Garden Suburb site at Brighouse.

Planning Inspector Katie Child, overseeing the hearings and who will decide whether the plan is sound and is to be implemented, said around 1,500 homes would be built there over the life of the plan, if it was allocated as a site, and just short of 2,000 in total.

She said there were four key considerations, whether the site could be accessed safely, whether it was supported by transport and other infrastructure, whether adverse impacts could be satisfactorily mitigated and exceptional circumstances could support its removal from green belt and whether the site could deliver homes in the timescale set out.

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Fields off Thornhills Lane, Clifton, with Brighouse in the background.

For Calderdale Council, Planning lead Richard Seaman said work undertaken for the council showed 680 of the homes could be supported before significant interventions were required to the highway network, and these would take seven years to deliver.

A641 corridor work was key, including the spine road which would connect the A643 and A641, from where there would be access to the garden suburb, said Mr Seaman.

A very conservative estimate of £12 million would be required to deliver the spine road, which had topographical challenges including crossing Thornhills Beck, and this had been factored into the financial appraisal of the garden suburb, he said.

Ms Child said there questions to be asked about funding.

The council would have to prudentially borrow money to do this before receipts from developers came through as homes were built. “However you cut it, it is viable,” said Mr Seaman.

Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) disagreed and said there were issues with both access points, describing the A643 as “at best, congested” and the A641 as “chaos at the best of times.”

Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) said some councillors were concerned about the amount the council’s ruling Labour group were prudentially borrowing. Mr Seaman said officers had undertaken the necessary cash flow work and advised it was appropriate to prudentially borrow the money that was needed.

Jon Dunbavin, of ID Planning, representing the Thornhills estate, said he was “absolutely confident” the scheme was viable and deliverable.

Other infrastructure issues raised by Coun Blagbrough included secondary education provision, as if a free school application discussed was not successful one of the other high quality local schools had told him they believed a lot of potential extra pupils would have an adverse impact on their intake, and flooding concerns.