Discussion Forum

Victoria Road plans

Posted by Pat McCarthy
Sunday, May 28, 2006

Low cost housing is how Mango and Studio Baad are marketing their proposed plans to build next to the Children's Playground in Victoria Road.

Just a minute! Weren't these the same lot who tried to build "eco-homes" on the Mill Pond? Eco-homes, which were then described as greenwashing, ie, they added the "environment dimension" as a bolt-on to make a really bad idea acceptable. Fortunately, the people of Hebden Bridge were smart enough to see through it.

Once again they have got another set of crazy plans no-one wants. (Why do they keep doing that!!!) This time there is no environmental bolt-on. They are trying "affordable" housing instead.

If they are really interested in the environment, or low cost housing (and not just making a large profit) where's the evidence from their other projects?

Posted by Joseph
Friday, June 2, 2006

I'm not sure about this. As a community we recognise that low cost housing is a problem. Yet when someone tries to build some, we object to it. We can moan about one or the other, but not both.

Posted by Dave Allen
Saturday, June 3, 2006

I lived in the Victoria site area for 25 years before moving away. I cannot tell you how many hours/ days/ weeks/ months/ years I spent playing on Victoria road park.

This site in question was the source of fun for me and all my mates for a vast amount of these years, and had many a great times jumping over the fence from the park and scaling down the wall (in fact if you go over the fence at the far right hand side of the park and go down the wall you will see the wall is half knocked down that?s my handy work from about 18 years ago hehehe).

When the mill was there (where Waterside Fold is now) we used to get chased off by the mill workers and I even remember them cementing glass onto the top of the wall so we could not climb up I even sat there and chatted with the guy who was doing this

But we soon got round that, we smashed a hole in the wooden barrier at the bottom of Fosters and Suthers road..

Once the mill closed down the site was left to rot, yes they built waterside fold which in my opinion was a good thing but unfortunately at that time they failed to develop the site now proposed.

How many people opposing this have had to climb the fence of the park to retrieve a football 1000s of times?

How many of the people who are opposing this played and grew up on the old lorry trailer and the van that was dumped on this site till the developers of waterside fold took the away..

My point is this site has been disregarded for many, many years, even when the mill was operating it was still disregarded.

So I say build, build on this site that no one has wanted till now, yes I appreciate that there are now some trees growing on this site, there by virtue that this site has been out-of-bounds for so long

This block of land lives dearly in my heart, I?ve had good and bad times playing here but it?s about time this land was reclaimed and finally given the justice it deserves

Posted by Pat McCarthy
Sunday, June 4, 2006

Joseph, of course we badly need low cost housing but not there. It would set the precedent of allowing developers to build over the rivers. There are other far more suitable places along that side of Victoria Road where low cost housing could be built. The proposals for Hangingroyd Mill have now been withdrawn but I don't think people objected to that much larger development.

My original point was that Mango and Baad are using the "low cost housing" as a ruse to get through otherwise, unacceptable plans. Where are their low cost housing on their other projects Melbourne Street, Macpelah or Pecket Well. If they were so full of compassion for the young people of Hebden Bridge who can no longer afford to live here, they would have made cheap housing available in their other projects.

Dave, our children continual to use and enjoy the park. Would you really want houses so close that the people living there would be forever shouting at the children to keep their noise down! Or the children too frightened to kick a ball in case it broke windows?

Posted by Lynn
Monday, June 5, 2006

1. St Vincent’s Housing Association will not lose the grant money if this block of flats is not built. This will still be available for low cost housing in the area. It is Mango Development who will lose the opportunity for a high density, high profit development.

2. This large block will be 4 storeys high. It will tower over the nearby 2 storey terrace houses. (despite artists impressions you may have seen in the local press) Do we have any 4 storey buildings on level ground in the conservation area? 4 storeys is very high.

3. Every inch of the site will be built upon. There will be no room for a tree or even a potted plant. Half the building will be over the river. It will extend right to Waterside Fold and right up to the playground. Where will delivery vehicles park? Where will building materials be stored during construction?

4. Access will be along Waterside Fold. On a privately owned cul de sac.

5. The river wall will be demolished. An electrically operated flood barrier will replace it. Will it work? Will it be in place during the build? At present flood water and associated debris can flow over the bridge/deck, when railings are erected and cars parked where will flood water go?

6. Six balconies will be built right next to and overlooking the children’s playground. There will be steps leading from the playground into the flats. Will the residents complain about the noise from the children’s playground? What effect will this have on the future of the playground? With balconies so close, overlooking from 4 storeys high, will this continue to be a safe place for unsupervised children to play?

7. There will not be enough parking spaces for each flat and 2 of these will be too small to be used. Where will the extra cars park?

8. Parking will be underground, but will not be high enough for access by delivery vehicles. Where will they park?

9. There is no disabled access and no lift. There will be no ground floor accommodation. This development which is described as low cost will be totally unsuitable for the elderly, the disabled or families with small children. It does not comply with Affordable housing policy.

10. Half the build will be in the conservation area and does not comply with guidelines.

11. This site was bought cheaply with permission for 4 flats. The developer is now trying to increase the approved number by 300 percent. Is this because Mango Development wishes to help people to get a foot on the property ladder?

Posted by Andrew Hall
Monday, June 5, 2006

Well said, Lynn. I do hope you send your points to Calderdale Council.

As we all know, developers in Hebden Bridge have a record of 'greenwashing' their developments - i.e. pretending to be environmentally sound when all along, all they want to do is make money at our expense. Fortunately, their underhand tactics failed with regard to the Foster Mill development. They underestimated the opposition, thinking that any mention of being 'green' would go down well in a place like Hebden Bridge.

So, what other card could they possibly play? The 'low cost housing' one, of course! Judging by the comments on this discussion board, and the decision of our local councillors, they've certainly succeeded in conning a few people.

Does anyone think, for one minute, that the developers really care about low cost housing? Of course not! All it is, for them, is a useful lever to get planning applications passed. It's a good way of softening and dividing the opposition. Anything with any sort of social slant on it, is grist to their mill. It's the oldest trick in the developer's book (even more so than the green trick) and yet we still fall for it.

As Lynn points out, even if there is an element of 'low cost' housing in the development, it will be totally unsuitable for many groups (ie the elderly, disabled, young families). I'm actually quite surprised that certain Labour councillors are on record as supporting this scheme - surely affordable housing should be available to everyone, and not just those who can climb stairs and don't have small children. There will however (as the developers hope and pray) be no take up of the affordable housing part of the scheme, so that they can sell it on at full price.

St Vincent's will lose out, local residents will lose out, a precedent will have been established allowing other similar developments. No prizes for guessing who will be laughing all the way to the bank!

Posted by Anne
Monday, June 5, 2006

I'm not a planner, but I guess the reason they want to build here and not elsewhere is that affordable housing needs to be built on affordable land, otherwise the developers will make no profit at all. Do you know anyone - green or otherwise - who will build houses that are not profitable? And why should they?

Posted by Joseph
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Nope, I'm still stuck! I fully suspected Dave's post to end on a "and that's why it should not be built" note. But he recognises that the land can only contribute to our community if it is developed and made use of, and that our community needs to move on.

The absence of low cost housing is one of the greatest issies for us. Rightly or wrongly, low cost housing is never going to occupy a prime site. Its never going to get the plum spots, because thats just how it works, and its always (under current regs) going to be squeezed in somewhere where its not really ideal. But I'd still rather have it than not have it.

The Mango people have struck a real note with previous unpopular projects. Before we trash this one too, we need to make sure that we're not just doing it because of who is doing the development. And if we are going to block it, we need some alternatives - and if there are some alternative projects that are due to come up, in a better location, with better design and more support then great. But if not we perhaps need to swallow our pride and say, well we don't like it really but we'd prefer that than the alternative.

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

I agree with you to an extent, Joseph. If we need low-cost housing, then we have to accept it wherever we can put it. However, if Lynn's 11 points are correct, this scheme will not work in this place. It isn't a question of doing it because we need it, but of doing something that works. If it doesn't, then it's storing up problems for the future.

Posted by Paul Palmer
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Hello. I must both agree with The Rev Tony Burglass and Pat McCarthy in that we have seen all this before; for example the "Millpond" development opposite Windsor View.

As I said at the time, I had no problems at all with the interesting proposals by the Architects, except for the garages and parking, (not sure if the same can be said for this one though, from what I have seen of the plans, the garages again being a problem) but the major issue at the time was access and the problems with the site itself to be appropriate for that particular development, no matter how hard the developers tried to convince our community, the council and experts that it was approprite they failed (I feel the same may happen here).

Nobody is arguing that we do not need "affordable housing" (whatever this means?) but it also needs to be sustainable and in an appropriate location and I am not convinced of this.

I understand that we need places for those who cannot afford housing to live, but what about "social rented housing"? Why is everyone obsessed by "affordable" "owned" housing, because unless local earnings rise well above inflation and/or there is a housing price crash then I cannot see this happening.

Who knows how much these dwellings will cost and how much the rent will be (if rented at all)?

We need a wider debate, or we will not see the last of this "build housing over the whole of the river"; that's what I say??? (Attempt at being Facetious).

Where would we prefer affordable social housing to be built? We need some alternatives to present to future planners and developers.

Thanks for reading.
Paul Palmer - Calder Green Party.

Posted by Andrew Hall
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

You must excuse my cynicism on this issue.

I firmly believe that anyone born and bred in Hebden Bridge should have the opportunity to live here, irrespective of financial means.

I also believe that any developments should have no adverse affect on people living in the area. I don't think it right that people who have invested large amounts of money for a property with a view, should have that view taken away from them. Likewise, if people have had privacy, why should it be acceptable that they suddenly become overlooked?

Sadly, I believe that the Victoria Road development will satisfy neither of these points.

Perhaps I'm getting too old (52!). I've seen the youthful ebullience of some of contributors here. But, honestly, their aims are my aims. We all want low cost housing. The only difference is some of us have been here many times before. We've given the developers the benefit of the doubt more times than I can mention, only to see our aspirations crushed.

We live in a high cost area. The Broadbottom Farm estate at Mytholmroyd (totally dilapidated) went for the selling price of £1 millon and there are 26 people with ready cash available (according to the estate agent) who would have paid that, and probably more. Developers know this - there's money to be made in this valley. Yes, Anne, of course developers need to make a profit, but the more profit they make the better, as far as they're concerned. And the only profit they make out of poor people is by crying crocodile tears, and trying to demonstrate how caring they are by pretending to provide an element of low cost housing.

But there's no point arguing. Let's see what happens. I suggest that it will be high cost, executive homes. History suggests the same. I would love to be proved wrong. I don't think I will be.

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Paul asks 'Why is everyone obsessed by "affordable" "owned" housing?'

I grew up on a large Tyneside council estate. My parents never owned their home. I have never owned a home, because my home belongs to the church. I will probably be a first-time buyer when I'm 65!

I didn't have a problem with "right-to-buy" in principle; I did think it very wrong that the local authorities forced to sell their housing stock weren't allowed to invest the proceeds of sale in more housing stock. I foresaw a dwindling housing stock as a result. I think the present problems have proved me right: we do need social rented housing. However, most young families don't really want to rent, they want a first step on the ownership ladder. And that, I think might be the fly in the ointment - assuming we build "affordable" homes for sale, what's to stop demand from pushing up the prices on resale so that the second buyers find them a long way from affordable?

Posted by Paul Palmer
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Rev Tony Buglass is right to suggest that all people should have the right to own their own homes, but ultimately we should be given a choice shouldn't we?

The choice in this part of Calder valley is very limited indeed for lower income citizens (and it's starting to effect middle incomes now).

There is no more affordable housing around here for a large number of people and this project looks like the units may be a bit cheaper than the average, but surely this does not make them affordable does it? (Has anyone any idea how much they will be if built?)

Only a few years ago I remember the obsession with "how much your house is worth", but now when the question is asked about how we had become "obsessed" with house prices we find that it is now those very same people whose children cannot leave home because they cannot afford to do so.

This is a real problem in attitude to housing in general; if people wish to speculate using housing then this is what we get, speculation of money should surely be left to the stock market or the horses not the future of the housing of our citizens surely? Even this attitude is making us unpopular in parts of Europe where house price obsession is affecting those around areas where a lot of Brits live, locals cannot afford to buy these houses now either.
Generally it is only Estate agents and Developers who are sat smiling while rubbing their hands together in areas such as these and indeed our area.

I lived in a council house with no central heating as a boy (I'm 42) and I don't remember being unhappy there, but now so many people are now indebted with their mortgages and child care uptake has gone up around 40% since 2004, some say as a direct consequence of higher house prices and cost of living.

If stimulating the social rented sector could take the pressure off then I feel it could be part of the answer, but unfortunately and not exactly popular, it may mean raising more Tax from those who buy properties such as the "Broadbottom Farm estate at Mytholmroyd (totally dilapidated) which went for the selling price of £1 Andrew Hall rightly pointed out) to pay for such schemes, or introducing a development land tax (both given directly to the local council to re-invest in real affordable housing) especially when the UK boasts about how we have so many millionaires.

I can see these comments being frowned upon as I type?

Thanks again for reading.

Paul Palmer.

Posted by Larry Kin
Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Why this obsession with low-cost housing? Surely what we need is more high-cost housing for young professionals. This will stimulate the local economy by attracting to our town affluent commuters with money to spend. In contrast, low-cost housing will merely attract low-income families who will contribute very little to the local economy; or worse actually withdraw from the economy by claiming housing benefits. This is not to argue that there is anything wrong with claiming housing benefits per se, merely that if we have a choice surely we would prefer other boroughs' council tax to be paid to fund benefits rather than our own?

At the risk of being controversial, perhaps the extra income raised from the increased council tax bands on high-value properties built to house these young professionals could be used to fund more brightly coloured cobbles for our streets, cheering things up a little?

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sorry, Larry, but what you've written simply doesn't hold up.

In the first place, you've committed the simplest of logical fallacies - trying to argue "either-or" when it could be "both-and." Wh6 can't we explore *both* the possibility of low-cost housing, and high-cost executive housing for those whom you assume will boost the local economy? Surely they're not mutually exclusive?

In the second place, what you argue begs the question: what constitutes community? Economic input? It's important, but by no means the only part of community. Surely the important thing is people, however much or how little they earn. Those on housing benefit may not bring a lot of economic strength, they may even be an economic drain, but that is the way it has always been. Until you can come up with a contructive way to remove the problem of poverty, there will always be those who need our support.

But isn't that really one of the strengths of community? That we support one another, enable one another, and so bring our gifts and strengths to enrich one another? If your argument is suggesting that the only ones worth having are the rich, that means you're arguing to remove the poor. But that is immoral, and I'm sure you can't have meant that. So perhaps I've misunderstood you, and you do have a more accepting, inclusive and compassionate view of community than your message seems to suggest. In which case you'll be able to explain how you would provide for those who cannot earn enough to buy high-cost housing, and yet be included in our community. I'm waiting with interest.

Posted by Andrew Hall
Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tony - quite simply you're wrong. What Larry has written actually holds up rather well.

You say that it's not a case of either high-cost or low-cost housing; you say both are possible.

Sadly (and I say this with a heavy heart) your perception of the housing market in Hebden Bridge does not reflect the reality of the situation.

There are two fundamental facts about Hebden Bridge which support my view. Firstly, land is at a premium. There are few sites locally where further development is possible, mainly to do with the topology of the area. Those sites that are available for development will command a price much higher than other areas. Why? Well it's a fairly well-known economic theory to do with supply and demand.

As I have said before, developers know that they are more likely to get their plans passed if they include an element of 'social housing' in their proposals. They don't do this out of any community spirit - they do it simply because they know they've more chance of getting their plans approved if they do, and making shedloads of money.

Secondly, I don't think that anyone would question that Hebden Bridge is a good place to live. Our town is a superb semi-rural environment between the two major metropolitan areas of Leeds/Bradford on one side and Manchester on the other. Who can blame the high earners of those areas for wanting to live in the idyllic setting of the Upper Calder Valley? And who can deny that their wealth brings in prosperity? That wealth renovates dilapidated farmhouses and barns, it rebuilds dry stone walls, it brings life to a once neglected part of the Pennines.

You mention that a community is so much more than 'economic input'. I couldn't agree more. But sadly your (and my) view are over-ruled by the sheer number of people with massive disposable income. I'm sure that individually, anyone, however wealthy, would agree that they would like to be part of an inclusive community. The trouble is that there are so many people with so much money that, in many respects, they destroy the community that they would like to be part of.

The poor, of course, are always with us (that's a biblical reference for those of you who don't know, not a patronising statement). How we reconcile the inordinate wealth of some with the modest means of others is one of life's imponderable questions. One thing is certain though - a few token low-cost houses, a few crumbs from the rich man's table, will hardly solve the problem. It might even make things worse.

Larry's contribution is obviously tongue in cheek (as illustrated by his last paragraph). Sadly, his comments are nearer the truth than he may realise.

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I hope Larry was writing tongue-in-cheek. Sadly, I have met too many folk who would seriously argue those points. In an case, what you say underlines my case, I think, and in a way which I think you'd affirm yourself. You refer to my perception of the housing market, which is primarily about market forces and the very thing Larry was making his major point. My argument was that market forces are not the most important thing (although granted we can't escape them) and must not be allowed to becoem the most important thing. That was my biggest objection to Thatcherism, when I was ministering in a Tyneside community reeling under the impact of monetarist policy in the early 1980s. Community was controlled by economics, rather than using it as a tool.

In this case, as you say, land for housing is at a premium. If we allowed developers free reign, there would be no affordable or rented housing, but lots of nice executive places crowding for a spot near the road and railway station. The poor (I nearly used the biblical quote, but thought it was too obvious, coming from me:)) would be excluded from the community.

My argument is that the whole community has a responsibility for the whole community, rich and poor together living in community. Which is why I reckon that housing development should not be simply left to developers, but controlled by a community-centred planning policy which ensures that there is affordable housing, as well as the posh for those with the dosh. That is what planning policy should be about - enabling and protecting community. It must be economically viable, of course, but economics is our servant, not our master.

Posted by Paul Palmer
Monday, June 26, 2006

Dear Me. I have heard it all now. Maybe Larry Kin will suggest next that we have a "working class people exlusion zone" around Hebden Bridge and make the Town exlusively for Rich young Pros? I really hope this is "tongue in cheek" or playing devil's advocate from Larry Kin.

Calderdale Planning Committee turned down the plans at their meeting of Tuesday 20 June

See also:

Planning Watch

Mill Pond pages

Linden Mill Woods