Calderdale Council plans to dispose of a piece of land to social housing partners have angered residents who say building on it would mean losing the last “green space” in their neighbourhood.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet approved disposing of the land at Horley Green Road, Claremount, Halifax, to Together Housing in order to develop 29 much-needed affordable homes for sale or rent.
But they met opposition from angry residents who packed the meeting room and loudly cheered their spokesperson who presented their arguments against the sale.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Resources, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said the land disposal would allow the council to provide, in partnership with Together, some much-needed housing.
She emphasised things were still a long, long way from a planning application.
However, said Coun Scullion, “one of the reasons we want to do this is we have a long waiting list of people wanting affordable housing.”
It would bring in a sale receipt to the council and also trigger New Homes Bonus from Government and other receipts, but homes were the main concern, with 714 people in this part of the borough wanting affordable homes and 267 of them specifying two-bedroomed homes.
But Nicole Jones, speaking on behalf of people in Claremount area, said residents were concerned about losing their last green space, including the effect the loss would have on their health and wellbeing, pointed out homes schemes were aready being build close by, and questioned whether the area’s infrastructure could cope with more housing, including school, environmental and highways issues.
They were also angry that an option of an asset transfer of the land to community stewardship, which had been spoken of at a ward forum, was not included on the options put before councillors.
Mrs Jones listed where many new homes had been built in the area over the last 20 years and said school places were in such short supply her son had to go to a school in Brighouse even after she had taken the issue all the way to appeal.
She gave Freedom of Information figures for a number of school places and the number of applicants over the past few years.
These included St Joseph’s, Halifax, which had a 30-place entry having between 50 and 70 applicants in each of the last five years.
There were more suitable sites across Halifax for developing homes, she said. This land was used by all ages in Claremount, ranging from older people using it for exercise to children using it as a playground – nearest park Shibden was too far away to be an alternative.
With the area recently being made subject to Air Quality Management Area status, adding more homes with resulting vehicles would make it worse, said Mrs Jones, and she questioned the amount of money the council would get from the sale.
Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) asked for copies of the school information figures and said the council might have to look at that in more detail.
Ward councillor Coun Roger Taylor (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said he supported all the points Mrs Jones had made.
“It’s the last little bit of green land that Claremount has got,” he said.
Coun Scullion said in terms of sale price this was less than the council might get on the open market but Together was a not-for-profit housing provider.
And in relation to others sites being developed or suitable, the council owned this land and private developers were less willing to build the sort of homes Calderdale needed.
She took the point about air quality but said although this land was a green space it was not part of the green belt.
Coun Scullion reiterated this decision was for land disposal and was not a planning application where many of the issues raised would be tested.
Coun Swift said the Local Plan would require the council to build certain numbers of homes – around 840 a year of all kinds over the 15-year life of the plan.
“There is particular pressure on the council about affordable housing and partnership with Together is just one strand where we are trying to alleviate and deliver that.
“It won’t be the only site potentially controversial,” he said.