Next meetings to discuss controversial Calderdale housing in Local Plan

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A third set of hearings into Calderdale’s controversial Local Plan is provisionally pencilled in to begin on May 10, it has been revealed.

Calderdale Council’s Planning Lead, Richard Seaman, presented a report updating the timeline of the draft plan’s potential progress, which if Planning Inspector Katie Child agrees it is sound and legally compliant, could be adopted by the end of this year or early next year, to the authority’s Place Scrutiny Board.

This next, shorter, period of hearings will consider questions she had raised and more evidence she required about infrastructure, housing supply and habitat.

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But with the council now in a period of purdah before the local elections on May 6, councillors were told to stick to the timeline nature of the item and the council’s senior legal officer Ian Hughes, and Board Chair, Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) stepped in to halt points being raised by Coun Regan Dickenson (Con, Rastrick) about the democratic process when extra sites were added in January 2020 and by Coun Sue Holdsworth (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) about whether the council would require developers to build affordable homes.

Calderdale Local PlanCalderdale Local Plan
Calderdale Local Plan

Purdah is the period of time in the United Kingdom following the announcement of an election until afterwards and affects civil servants, who must be politically impartial, preventing them from making announcements about any new or controversial initiatives that could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election.

Purdah does not apply to candidates.

Mr Hughes said issues other than the timeline could be discussed at further stages, and questions raised at this meeting would receive a written response.

Coun Peter Caffrey (Con, Northowram and Shelf) asked whether a third series of hearings was usual and Mr Seamen said a neighbouring authority had gone to five, as an example.

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Coun Caffrey said he had asked because he believed there were still an awful lot of questions being asked about housing supply – he had correspondence from six different groups about the issue.

“There is quite a lot of hoo-hah about that, rumours the information we are using to calculate supply is flawed, looking at inward migration, not growth within the borough,” he said.

Mr Seaman said it would not be appropriate for him to get into the debate about housing requirements but the issue of supply came from one of requirement.

The issue of process about calculating housing supply has also been Challenged by Calderdale Friends of the Earth on behalf of the local plan environmental and community groups and individuals including Woodhouse Residents Association, resident Amanda Tattersall, Shelf and Northowram Local Plan Forum, Lynsey Ashton of Greetland Pressure Group and Calderdale Green Party.

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Anthony Rae of Friends of the Earth, who sent a copy of a document he had hoped to present at the meeting to the Local Democracy Reporting Service and which had been sent to Board members, said these represented thousands of people.

And Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) said he found it disappointing that while appreciating it was an election period that various groups had not been able to voice their concerns including about timescales.

ghes said issues other than the timeline could be discussed at further stages, and questions raised at this meeting wo