Discussion Forum
Councillors' views on
development in the valley

Posted by Joseph
Wednesday, 11 April 2007

As the election approaches, it would be good to hear councillors' views on development in the valley.

Our community's dilemma is that shortage of housing has pushed prices up to a level where lots of people can't afford to live here. Surely this is not right? Yet at the same time, nobody wants to see the valley eaten up with senseless and poorly thought out plans, that destroy the look, feel and substance or our community.

So what's the solution? Every thread on development on this forum is nominally against development per se. But it's surely better to have a consistent and fair (if difficult) policy than what sometimes feels like nimbyism gone mad.

What I'd really like to see is a councillor prepared to stand up and say, "well, its not ideal, but if you want somewhere for your children to live, then somethings got to give"

Posted by Tom Standfield
Wednesday, 11 April 2007

I don't know if you live or work round here Joseph but everywhere you look in Hebden Bridge, there is building going on, planned, or recently finished; mainly luxury flats and penthouse apartments (Victoria Road). The whole town is being transformed. How many of these developments have actually been strongly opposed? Hardly any. Looking through these threads, there are about 3-4 proposed developments which have got people angry. Because they tried to build in stupid places.

More people should be complaining about the kind of building which is being allowed to take place. Not only too expensive for our children: most of those now living in Hebden Bridge wouldn't be able to afford to move here now.

Yes, let's hear the council candidates' views about this. They want our votes. Why are they so quiet?

From Oscar
Thursday, 12 April 2007

Well said Joseph, and Tom, totally agree. Already the developments on Victoria Road are up for sale 'off plan'.

At £160k - £200k not exactly starter homes. The warehouses near the childrens' playground are also earmarked for new build.

One of the key issues brought up by local young people in discussion is the affordability of local property.

Whilst I appreciate no-one has the right to own a house in the town where they where 'born and bred', surely there should be provision for shared home ownership schemes for local first time buyers. Any proposed councillors going to fight for this?

If not, in a few years, Hebden Bridge could become the Harrogate of West Yorkshire!

From Jacob
Friday, 13 April 2007

The Harrogate of West Yorkshire? Excellent, I say.

Hebden Bridge is an expensive place to buy property, but no more so than anywhere else with good transport links to active commercial centres. I'm not really sure what you're getting at. There is plenty of property for sale at the moment, some of it for less than £100k and I don't see it getting snapped up. So where is the crisis? A significant proportion of these new apartments are also being let - and renting accommodation is the accepted option in many (most) European cities.

Crikey, you could virtually give property away in Hebden Bridge 25 years ago.

Remember, all proper tea is theft!

From Cllr Joanna Beacroft-Mitchell
Friday, 13 April 2007

Hi Joseph, Tom and Oscar.

One of the most frustrating aspects I've found in being a councillor at Town level is the lack of 'teeth' we have over planning. We can make our feelings known to Calderdale and we can ask for our recommendations to be taken into consideration, but at the end of the day Calderdale can, if they wish, ignore us completely.

On the plus side we have been able to support residents when they've got together to prevent inappropriate developments and on those occassions we seem to have got through.

We've always tried to push for ways to manage the housing market - as well as multi use we've suggested shared equity schemes and we supported efforts to have Victoria Road developed by a Housing association. Unfortunatly the response from Calderdale is a resounding (and somewhat insulting) silence.

Personally I'm not opposed to the re-use of our gorgeous old industrial buildings, I think a new lease of life for some of them is a positive thing, even more so if they were imaginatively developed for a range of uses.

I'm much less convinced of the need for new developments as we have so little flat community space which is why I was so active in preserving Scout Road Park in Mytholmroyd.

There's a fine line to be trodden - if we start making objections to all and every application on principle then Calderdale will ignore us, but I think the suggestions that have been made over the last few years are sensible and constructive - which makes the silence even more frustrating.

I for one will continue to bang my head against what seems to be a brick wall at Calderdale, hopefully someone will eventually start listening !

From Joseph
Friday, 13 April 2007

Jacob; as an example, the Church development on Palace House Road (St Thomas?) I think went in first with plans for say 25 units, then was chopped to 15 after complaints (or something I can't remember but you get the point).

£200k 1000 sq foot Harrogate style flats are all very well, but what the community needs (I think) is a good few 100k small starter flats. However, when a greedy (why is it always a greedy?) developer puts in a plan for lots of cheaper flats, we knock them back, or reduce the numbers, inevitably pushing up the price/ size of the remaining units in the development. We can maintain the status quo, our green spaces and lovely views or we can provide affordable houses for people to live in. We can't however, always do both.

Thanks Joanna for clarifying how little influence town councillors have on planning, and for replying and putting your head above the parapet.

From Cllr Tim Swift
Thursday, 19 April 2007

I am not a councillor for the Upper Valley, but was interested in the topic of this thread.

When a development above a certain size is allowed, Calderdale MBC have the power to insist that a certain proportion of the units are 'affordable'. At the moment, the proportion is supposed to be 10% but, because of the way this is calculated, it usually works out at less than that.

The relevant planning policies are being updated and, once they have been through the public consultation process and adopted, this will increase the proportion to 20% - and I believe this should be applied more consistently.

On a related point, the Council has also agreed (with partners) a target to increase the number of affordable properties in rural areas. To achieve this, a 'rural housing enabler' will be employed to work with housing associations and developers to try to provide more houses for rent or shared ownership.


See also

Hebweb News - 13th April - biogs

Hebweb News - 11th April - Town candidates

Hebweb news - 29th March - Calderdale candidates