Calderdale planning councillors reject Hebden Bridge straw bale home - 'right idea, wrong place'

Councillors have refused planning permission for a straw build home despite admitting they liked the design.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 12:02 pm
Calderdale Council's Planning Comittee made the decision

Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee agreed with planning officers’ recommendation to refuse Donna Goodman’s application to build a straw bale home at land to the west of Glen View Road, Hebden Bridge.

The proposal would reuse materials including old tyres for the base and use straw bales to create the home.

Officers’ primary reason for recommending the proposals be refused was because the site is in the green belt and in a special landscape area, next to ancient woodland and on a site of ecological interest.

An application can still be allowed in green belt but it has to demonstrate very special circumstances and officers believed this proposal did not do so.

However, ward councillor Coun Sarah Courtney (Lab, Calder) supported the plans and believed it did.

“Creating sustainable housing which has low carbon emissions both in terms of building materials and methods and energy use has to be an essential element in our fight against climate change,” she said.

The council was not building enough sustainable homes and this showed self-builders it could be done eco-friendly and affordably, with training and courses in this type of building soon to be provided at Todmorden Community College by the company Straw Works and the School of Natural Building.

Straw Works’ Barbara Jones was experienced in building around 300 straw bale buildings of all sizes over the last 25 years, including council houses for a council in Lincolnshire, said Coun Courtney.

“I believe this straw bale house will offer a beacon of hope to self-builders and to others who need access to low cost housing, to us as a council looking to address house building, and for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, showing low carbon emissions is achievable,” she said.

Ms Goodman said the aim was that her home would be a training site for straw builders when being constructed and a show house afterwards.

It did not offer normal very special circumstances such as shops or schools but instead an educational community build demonstrating how natural materials and recycled products could be used.

Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said he had no problem with straw bale construction having supported Shelf Village Hall to be built this way.

“But I am against building in the green belt, I have been pretty consistent in this,” he said.

Seconding his motion to refuse the application, Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) agreed: “The design of the building I have no problem with, it is the siting I have serious concerns about.”

Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) said the project showed some brilliant things – but this was not the right place.