The six week public consultation on changes to Calderdale’s draft Local Plan will not take place until the New Year, the council has announced.
Following observations from the Government appointed Local Plan Inspector, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet has adjusted its housing plans and now aims to deliver 9,970 new homes over ten years, with a pause to then reassess how many more might be needed in the remaining five years of the 15-year plan.
The decision finally released for implementation by the council’s Place Scrutiny Board this week. The changes concern new sites now put into the plan.
Details of how to make comments will be released in due course, the council has said.
The council had hoped to run the consultation before Christmas, but it has been delayed because of the General Election.
To achieve the number, following indications from Planning Inspector Katie Child after the first phase of hearings into the draft Local Plan, which were held in the summer.
The council proposed building 840 new homes a year for the 15 year life of the plan but Ms Child felt there was a discrepancy between the economic growth estimates and number of homes she believes this would require to be built in Calderdale to house the workforce.
The council’s chosen option puts an accent on a greater concentration of houses within existing sites which are close to good transport links, for example within town centres, as well as identifying some new sites close to bus and rail provision.
This has allowed some green belt sites to be removed from options given to councillors to increase the numbers in line with the inspector’s comments – some campaigners, concerned about the strain on infrastructure, argued the inspector had suggested an option to reduce economic growth plans meaning less homes needed, but a majority of the scrutiny board did not agree.
Comments on the new site will be shared directly with the Planning Inspector before the second stage of examination.
Any significant changes to the Local Plan can only be made by the Inspector – however, the council is able to raise potential changes during the examination process.
As well as the amendments to housing numbers and sites, the council is also proposing some policy changes to take into account more stringent environmental targets in light of its declaring a climate emergency earlier this year.
Calderdale Council’s Head of Legal and Democratic Services, Ian Hughes, explained the decision to delay the consultation.
“The run-up to any election is a very busy time and this is particularly the case before a General Election.
“Launching a public consultation within this pre-election period would make it difficult for us to make sure that we have engaged as fully as possible with the public and with politicians on such an important issue for the borough.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to take part, so to ensure this happens there will be a slight delay until the New Year,” said Mr Hughes.