It's the first phase of Calderdale Council's 'Local Plan'.
Planning applications for the first of more than 3,200 homes in two giant Garden Suburbs at Brighouse could be submitted before the end of this year.
The first phase of hearings into Calderdale’s Local Plan heard plans for the first 200 of homes at Woodhouse and a similar number for Thornhills would be submitted to Calderdale Council soon.
But community groups and others said an important part seemed to be missing in the discussion – people.
Council planning lead Richard Seaman told the hearing, held before Inspector Katie Child at Shelf Village Hall, that progress was being made over the two Garden Suburbs which are a key part of Calderdale’s Local Plan.
The hearings are intended to test the soundness of the plan, which will identify land where businesses and an estimated 12,600 homes – around 9,600 when sites which currently have planning permission but have not yet been developed are taken into account – can be situated in Calderdale by 2032.
Pre-planning discussions had been taken place and Mr Jonathan Dunbavin, of ID Planning, which is representing landowners who own the majority of both sites, said the aim to have the first phase ready for submission pending approval of the Local Plan.
“I believe we could have the first phase commencing development in 2020-21,” he said.
However Robert Bamforth of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England said discussions omitted an important factory – people who lived near the sites and the effect the plans would have on them.
And Tony Perryman of Clifton Village Neighbourhood Forum, told the hearing of infrastructure concerns particularly if highway improvement plans were not delivered on time, which residents believed would lead to even more traffic congestion in an area already subject to poor air quality.
“The people I represent are genuinely concerned about some of the issues discussed here today.
“I know it is a highly emotional response, but sometimes people do matter.
“The purpose of the Local Plan is to improve the lot of the people of Calderdale as a whole and there are communities in Brighouse who will sustain large developments as a consequence of this Local Plan – probably about 50 per cent of development in Calderdale – and their voice needs to be heard,” he said.
But council programme manager Richard Spensley said extensive consultation had been carried out which would inform Masterplanning for the sites going forward.
Mr Spensley also fended off criticism from representatives of housing concerns who doubted delivery times particularly as they were dependent on major transport infrastructure.
Andrew Rose, of Spawforth Associates, representing Keyland Developmens Ltd, questioned levels of funding for highway infrastructure – £52 million from the West Yorkshire Transport Plus programme, which is managed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority – and told the inquiry: “You do wonder whether that scheme is feasible.”
Mr Spensley said the council had a strong record of delivering these type of schemes on time and in budget, and this would be no different, a view also emphasised by Mr Seaman who said doubting the feasability was “fundamentally wrong.”
A statement of common ground between ID Homes and the council, published on the council’s website with other plan documents, says the first phase of 1,257 homes planned for the Woodhouse site are already being marketed through Savills with Redrow Homes selected as preferred developer and building rate varying from around 40 homes in the first year to a maximum of 125 homes per year by 2030-31.
A similar document for Thornhills, where 1,998 homes are ultimately envisaged by 2032, with Bellway Homes as preferred developer, says homes would be developed at a similar rate.
In the case of both sites 680 new homes at each could be developed by 2026-27 before major interventions in the highways network became necessary, says the statement.
The inspector’s job is to rule whether or not the Local Plan as a whole is sound – if it is, it could be adopted before the New Year.
Government has told all local authorities they must develop a plan to meet need it has estimated.
Suitability of individual sites will be more fully addressed in phase two of the hearings, unlikely to be held before November.
The phase one hearings continue from Wednesday (3/7) this week.