Split vote sees controversial 105 Halifax home plan approved

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Controversial plans to build up to 105 homes in Halifax have received outline permission.

The proposals are to redevelop a former industrial site as new homes at land off Phoebe Lane, Siddal.

Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee agreed on a split vote to allow the plans to go forward, in outline form.

They were put before councillors for highways issues to be considered and a full application will have to come before committee, they agreed.

Other concerns raised at the meeting included loss of green space and health and safety issues relating to its former industrial use.

Sixty four letters of representation were received, two in support but the others objecting particularly on highways grounds including the volume of traffic, the gradient of Phoebe Lane, which in freezing weather wagons were unable to get up, and unsuitable roads which were already being used as a “rat run” by more traffic.

Highways officers said they had considered these issues in detail and concluded that with conditions the road system could cope with the new homes.

A spokeswoman for objectors said she represented a large group of concerned residents who had concerns about loss of green land, highways and health and safety.

She said they feared ground the new homes will be built on might be toxic as aluminium had been smelted there, a process followed by washing down with arsenic.

The officers’ report said the impact on traffic would be minimal but Siddal residents already had to queue to get out of the village, a frustrating process which led some drivers to drive onto the pavement to make progress. All accesses to the site had problematic issues.

The site was a haven for under-threat wildlife such as bats, she said.

Officers pointed out remediation strategies listed in the conditions would need to address safety issues.

Ward councillor Tim Swift (Town) said in his view highways issues were significant and should be considered as grounds for refusal.

An agent for the applicants said the site was at the end of its life as an industrial site and was isolated in an area now allocated for homes.

A late amendment to the plan, submitted by Mr and Mrs Akram, said the 105 homes would be a maximum and it could be less.

Traffic calming issues would improve the road and nearly half the site would be untouched. Council policy was to utilise brownfield sites for new homes, he said.

Councillor Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said if the number of homes proposed had been 105 he would have recommended refusal.

But the notion of less homes was more acceptable and would see a brownfield site developed. It was now totally unsuitable as an employment site, he said.

Councillor Faisal Shoukat (Lab, Park) said the principle of housing was not an issue but he was not convinced highways issues had been resolved. Councillor Paul Bellinger (Lib-Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said he shared highways concerns and potential site contamination raised other issues.

Councillors Shoukat and Bellinger’s proposed amendment to refuse was not carried and members agreed to support the substansive motion to grant outline permission.