As you may know Calderdale’s proposed Local Plan has to go through a two stage Hearing or approval process. At the first stage the Government appointed Inspector stated that the proposed housing plans weren’t enough to match the economic targets.
Most attention tends to be paid to the proposals for housing but the Plan is about more than just housing.
It sets out Calderdale’s plans for the local economy for the next 15 years. Calderdale has some discretion but has to work within limits set by National Government.
No-one wants their local planning decisions made by Whitehall so it is important to get the Plan approved.
I went to Calderdale’s Cabinet meeting on Monday, October 14. This was a special meeting to decide how to respond to the Inspector.
The Local Plan is central to the future prospects of Calderdale.
I was surprised that no Conservative Councillors attended in person.
Todmorden and Hebden Bridge are hardly affected by changes in housing allocation but the plans for economic growth are important to us.
Calderdale’s economic plans were broadly accepted by the Inspector and in accordance with Government guidelines. The Council didn’t want to be less ambitious for the local economy.
This meant further housing sites did need to be identified.
Advice was taken from specialists in the housing market and from Calderdale Officers. Friends of the Earth made representations. Cabinet also decided to review housing levels after 10 years to reflect the likelihood of considerable change in circumstances over such a length of time.
Cabinet were able to lower slightly the increase in homes per year as proposed by Officers, setting the figure at 997.
The impact on Green Belt and open space in rural areas has been reduced.
This will mostly be done by more intensive use of brownfield sites and more mixed use sites. Mixed use sites fit with Calderdale’s ambition to foster the creation of businesses and jobs within the Borough so that the need to commute outside the Borough is reduced.
This fits with the commitment to sustainable growth.
Some previously rejected brown field sites are now better protected from flooding and there is more awareness of flood resilient housebuilding techniques.
Cabinet’s final proposals, in particular in relation to Green Belt, were generally welcomed by members of the public who spoke at the meeting.
There will be consultation before the next stage of the Hearing on the amendments and the appropriateness of particular site designations can be raised at the second stage of the Inquiry
The Plan already contains some sites in Todmorden which have been controversial. Those who have objections to particular sites will have opportunity to argue against designations at second stage of Inquiry later this year.
I am also pleased that Cabinet approved a proposal to add a commitment to reduce carbon emissions to the Plan. This has to be approved by the Inspector.