Calderdale planning meeting suspended amid protester row

Halifax Town Hall
Halifax Town Hall

Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee meeting had to be suspended while a protester left the building.

The woman was protesting about not being allowed to speak on an application by the Cornell Group Ltd, which was seeking permission to build three detached homes at land off Stubbing Holme Road, Hebden Bridge.

She was not the official objector and committee chairman Coun Steve Sweeney (Lab, Todmorden) argued with her before suspending the meeting at Halifax Town Hall.

Coun Sweeney explained that the meeting had legal status and was open to the public – but it was not a public meeting where everyone had a right to speak. It was a judicial position and the committee could not allow any members of the public to speak any more than a court would.

An objector and Coun Dave Young (Lab, Calder) were both given time slots to speak against the application.

Councillors backed officers’ recommendation to permit the development despite fears about flooding risk and highway safety.

The crux of the issue was a change in national policy guidelines since previous applications were rejected.

Councillors heard proposals to develop the site, which is between the River Calder and the Rochdale Canal in an area graded as flood zone 1, had been refused or had appeals turned down half a dozen times in the past, regularly on highways grounds due to poor access and egress from Stubbing Holme Road via Bridge Lanes to the town centre.

Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) and Coun Sweeney querying what was different this time.

Coun Sweeney said: “Why is that no longer viewed as being a problem whereas it was before?”

Council planners said changes in national policy guidelines made the difference – to sustain an objection on highways grounds they would have had to prove the impact would be severe.

With an estimated six extra vehicles using the road as a result of the development – around 18 extra vehicle movements a day – they did not believe they could sustain an objection on those grounds.

Objectors believed highways and flooding issues particularly should be taken into account.

The official objector, Hannah Nadim, said the road included several “blind” corners, conservation was an issue and there were flooding concerns.

She questioned the wisdom of building in an area which suffered flooding and said it would put people who had been flooded before at risk of it happening again.

“That’s the reality. I would ask you don’t put housing in a flood zone. It’s just not logical,” she said.

Coun Young reiterated concerns regarding traffic and did not believe the flood risk assessment accompanying the plan provided adequate answers to flooding concerns.

“Where those houses are – on Boxing Day 2015 they were under six feet of water,” he said.

Undeveloped the land also soaked water up and he was concerned about the effect losing that would have on other streets in the area.

Hebden Royd Town Council also objected to the proposals on similar grounds.

Coun Mohammad Naeem (Lab, Park) said the difference between former applications and this one regarding highways was the national policy change but Coun Young said he still believed there were flooding issues that were equally important.

The agent for the applicants said the site was in a primary housing area and the plans would supply homes for Calderdale.

Issues raised in previous applications had been addressed, highways officers had thoroughly assessed the plans and flooding risks had been minimalised, she said.

An ecological survey had been undertaken and wildlife connectivity between river and canal was being proposed, she said.