Calderdale falls behind target for building new homes in the borough
Partnerships will be key to Calderdale upping its game to meet new homes targets which have fallen behind year on year.
Calderdale Council Place Scrutiny Board councillors were considering a report on plans in the pipeline, how affordable homes might be built and possible funding, and asking how the situation will be improved.
Director of Regeneration and Strategy, Shelagh O’Neill, said the council had a legacy of under-performing.
The Local Plan, with the draft version entering its third stage of hearings this spring, once approved, would be one “jump off” point towards improvement and the “bold move” round the controversial Garden Suburbs around Brighouse would be key, she said.
House building would need all partnerships on board.
“We have got to get this right in the coming years, said Ms O’Neill.
Coun Bryan Smith asked what decisions had been taken to to increase the number of homes being built.
Coun Smith (Lab, Ovenden) said the council each year was getting further behind its target for the number of new homes which needed to be built, compounding the problem, and comparing unfavourably with other authorities.
“It has gone up year on year and is now 997 per annum, up from 581 two years ago.
“The council and partners are failing the people of Calderdale. Other areas are building far, far more houses,” he said.
Strategic housing delivery manager Heidi Wilson said there were a number of reasons why, including the borough’s steep topography making building homes a challenge, and the authority not having a Local Plan.
“We try and work with developers to encourage them to come and build in the area,” she said.
But interest was limited, with small size of sites also an issue.
Coun Audrey Smith (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) asked about numbers the council’s partnership with social housing provider Together Housing was producing as she believed it was less than planned.
George Paterson, Director of assets at Together Housing, said Together was going to build 275 homes in Calderdale on top of schemes at Beech Hill (105) and Abbey Park (83), both in Halifax, which were now on site, the two schemes together eventually producing around 300 homes.
Board Chair Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) believed the planning process needed a reset button.
“Relationships between developers and communities have broken down.
“Let’s not forget housing is quite an emotional topic,” he said.
Often developers came up with “fantastic” designs not delivered on, said Coun Robinson.
He asked if the council could set out what residents could expect or be able to see in a development, bringing them on the journey.
Ms O’Neill said she appreciated that point and said: “If we ever wanted a reset button, the pandemic is it.”