Protecting the green belt, planning future homes

Cllr Daniel Sutherland

Proposed changes to the draft Local Plan which could significantly reduce the impact on the green belt will be discussed by Calderdale Council’s Cabinet at a meeting on Monday 12 February 2018.

The government requires local councils to produce a Local Plan which identifies land to meet their requirements for new housing and economic development, over the next 15 years.

In 2017 the Council went out to consultation on an initial draft local plan that allocated enough land for the delivery of over 15,000 homes. For many this placed too great a burden on the green belt and so in December the Cabinet adopted a new methodology for working out its housing figures.

Using this new method, the Council now needs to identify sites for under 12,000 homes, meaning significant reductions can be made in the use of green belt land.

As the housing requirement has reduced this has allowed the Council to review where housing sites have been allocated within the draft Local Plan. A ‘sequential’ approach has been used so that brownfield sites in urban areas are prioritised for development, and the most sensitive green belt land is only considered when all alternative sites have been used.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing and Environment, Cllr Daniel Sutherland said:

“The Local Plan allows us to plan what our communities will need in future and to make sure that we have enough homes, schools and local infrastructure in the right places, as they change, grow and thrive.

“This is a careful balancing act as it is also vitally important that we protect our landscape and our environment, to support our wildlife, to enjoy at our leisure and to provide space to breathe now, and for the generations to come.

“I’m confident that with the proposals we are bringing forward that we can reduce the amount of green belt used to well under 2%. This is a major step forward from where we were last summer and I hope everyone can get behind this move to preserve green spaces across the borough.”

Compared to the initial draft of the Local Plan there have been reductions in proposed housing sites in each area of Calderdale, but particularly in Northowram, Shelf, Greetland and Stainland. A key part of the plan is the development of two ‘garden suburbs’ and an employment site in South Eastern Calderdale, this will see hundreds of millions of pounds invested into Brighouse and Rastrick as key centres for economic growth.

These garden suburbs are opportunities to develop well planned communities, with the inclusion of highways improvements, new schools and a setting filled with green recreational spaces. Smaller developments often leave unfunded strains on local public services but garden suburbs can maximise community benefit and create sustainable living in a beautiful setting.

The Council is also encouraging development around town centres, particularly in Halifax and Brighouse, which have the most potential sites. These will be supported by two road improvement schemes which are being funded by the West Yorkshire Transport Fund; the work already underway to tackle congestion along the A629 to the M62, and the planned improvements at Brighouse which has attracted additional funding from the National Productivity Investment Fund.

The revised draft Local Plan will be published in the summer of 2018 at which time members of the public will be able to make formal representations in response to the Plan.

In 2019 the Council will submit the Local Plan, together with the comments from the public, to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Calderdale’s Local Plan will then be examined in detail by an independent inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. The examination could last around nine months.

Adoption of the plan by Calderdale Council, following receipt of the Inspector’s Report, is expected to be confirmed by the end of 2019.

The Cabinet will consider the report at the next meeting, which will take place at 6pm on Monday 12 February 2018 at Halifax Town Hall.

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