Share this page

Small ads

Calder Valley Land Trust has questions to answer over High Street development

From Hugh Wilson

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The Calder Valley Land Trust (CVLT) has plans to construct 20 homes with parking spaces on the old High Street site in Hebden Bridge, directly opposite the terraces of Bridge Lanes. If you don’t know where that is, think of the green bank of mature trees and shrubbery on the right hand side as you walk up the hill out of Hebden towards the Fox and Goose pub.

Along with every other Bridge Lanes resident I know, I strongly oppose this scheme. We agree with CVLT and its supporters that Hebden needs affordable housing. So why not put it on the former Vale children’s centre site - currently flat, rubble strewn and untroubled by nature? We can hardly be accused of NIMBY-ism - that site is a stone’s throw from my backyard.

Why can’t it be used? It has been previously reported on HebWeb (HebWeb news, Sept 2016) that the site has been earmarked for a car park. Other rumours suggest that it may be used for more homes, with parking, alongside the High Street site. We believe the councillors involved in scrutinising  CVLT’s development plans cannot ethically consider these schemes in isolation, because what is at stake here is a potentially significant deterioration of air quality on what is already the most polluted stretch of road anywhere in Hebden Bridge. The High Street development will add traffic (not just resident cars, but also delivery vehicles, refuse collection and so on) and housing pollution to these already unacceptable levels. If the reports are correct, the council then plans to throw in up to 40 more dwellings with car parking, or a large car park, directly behind our street

Building affordable homes on the children’s centre site, but not the High Street, is the obvious solution. The old Vale Centre wouldn’t become a car park, and a bank of oxygen giving greenery would not be bulldozed. Flood proofing can easily be added to homes in the planning stage. Why isn’t the CVLT pressing for this, instead of using the ‘affordable housing’ mantra to force through a wholly unsuitable site?

Because the air pollution argument is just the tip of an iceberg. How much important wildlife will be destroyed by the development on High Street? We just don’t know, because the CVLT chose to do an environmental impact survey in January, then failed to take its own surveyor’s advice to repeat the survey between April and June, when a true record could be collected. It begs the question: do the CVLT want to honestly assess the suitability of the site for housing, or manipulate data to produce answers that suit their purposes?

Even if you don’t have much time for bats, that question becomes especially important when we learn from the relevant survey that asbestos may be present under the soil that this development will disturb or remove.

The CVL could be accused of being less than thorough in this regard too, something which should be ringing alarm bells at Hebden Bridge council. Five holes were drilled and no asbestos was found. But as the surveyors admit, none of the material tested was from the rubble of the houses that used to be present on the site and that were bulldozed into their own foundations in the slum clearance of the 1960s. The surveyors report that asbestos may well be present, despite the evidence of their own report! Bridge Lane residents have strong anecdotal evidence that a significant amount of asbestos may lie dormant, undisturbed and harmless - for now - in the foundations of those demolished buildings.

Do we know for certain? No, but neither do CVLT and neither do councillors who will soon approve or refuse this application, because thorough tests have not been carried out.

Other harmful contaminants were found. In normal circumstances contaminated soil would be removed, but how can that be done without affecting the stability of a very steep slope? Bridge Lane residents believe it is the duty of our council to insist that the ‘spoils’ of former buildings are thoroughly investigated for both asbestos contamination and their potential effect on the foundations of the new development, before considering this application. Up to now, this patently has not been done.

We would also ask the council to demand that a survey on the effects on wildlife be carried out at an appropriate time, and - most importantly - to consider this development in tandem with any plans for homes or a car park on the old children’s centre site. Ethically, councillors who claim to represent us cannot let both developments go ahead. How much poisonous air are you happy for your residents to breathe?

From Julie C

Monday, 15 October 2018

Well now, let's look at the positives instead. The site has been selected because there used to be streets and streets of homes up there. High Street is just that, a high up street well above the flood risk zone.

I'd have a lot more opposition to homes on the Vale site. It is slap bang in the flood risk area. That site has been inundated repeatedly, that's how come the Centre was demolished and Wireform went out of business.

Hebden Bridge badly needs genuinely affordable homes so that it doesn't atrophy. At present it's hardly possible for anyone just starting out. Otherwise once again, as happened for very different reasons in the 60s, it will become largely a place for older people. No space this time for an influx of youth and energy. The children and grandchildren can kiss goodbye to the chance of every living on their home turf. That would be sad.

A fully rounded community needs room for those just setting out on life, especially young families. It needs that to remain a 'real' place with kids for the schools and that buzz and creativity that having young people around brings with it. 

From Hugh Wilson

Monday, 15 October 2018

Hi Julie, nobody on Bridge Lanes disagrees with the need for affordable housing. It's just that they are putting this development on the most polluted stretch of road in Hebden. The Vale site isn't ideal but we would support it, and easy flood prevention measures can be planned in (garages on the bottom floor, for example). 

But here's what we think will happen, and if it does it represents a complete abdication of responsibility on the part of our council (Hebden council has already nodded High Street through with barely a murmur, we hear. Couldn't they at least ask our opinion?) with the health of its citizens.

When the fuss from High Street has died down, the council will hand the Vale site to property or car park developers, ensuring that the air quality on Bridge Lanes takes a further dive. Imagine the overbearing buildings of the new High Street development (they will tower over the current Bridge Lanes terrace) creating a pollution corridor, and all the traffic heading down the slope into Hebden Bridge backing up as scores of extra cars a day try to turn right into Stubbing Holmes road. 

The research into the damage caused to health by air pollution is in its infancy, and is already terrifying. I ask again, with no expectation of an answer: how poisonous does the air on Bridge Lanes have to get before the council decides to take the health of current and future residents into account in its planning decisions?

The whole High Street development creates a precedent that should concern all residents of Hebden Bridge and Calderdale. Wildlife? We don't care. Asbestos? Maybe, but they've ticked a box.  When developers with less of a cosy public image than CVLT move in, the council presumably has to apply the same lax criteria to their plans. 

From David Nugent

Monday, 15 October 2018

I am a trustee of Calder Valley Community Land Trust, so I read with interest the article by Hugh Wilson and was pleased to read that he is supportive of the Land Trust’s aims. I understand and am sympathetic to some of his concerns, but I honestly don’t believe that some of his criticisms ring true.

The Land Trust acts on behalf of the community and as such, we are equally concerned about the air quality in the area where we live. With that in mind, the homes we build will have far higher levels of insulation than is required by law; which is in itself far more than may be found in most houses in the valley. What little heating our homes require will be provided by clean energy sources.

We have done much in the UK to reduce emissions from motor vehicles. Diesels, once the darlings of the industry, are now seen as a menace due to the high levels of particulates they emit and are taxed accordingly. It is an issue I care about personally: Like the High Street scheme’s architect, I am an electric vehicle (EV) driver. Calder Valley CLT recognise zero-emission vehicles as the future, hence the inclusion of EV charging points, space for a ‘car club’ vehicle and infrastructure that will cope with additional charging points as the technology improves.

We also believe that developing homes near the town centre – as opposed to greenfield sites outside of town - reduces the need for occupants to drive or own a car. Indeed, for social housing, this is doubly important: We are developing homes for younger people currently priced out of the area, many of whom cannot afford to run a car. That is one of the reasons why we think we need fewer parking spaces and why we have improved the site’s access to the public transport infrastructure.

Hebden Bridge is no longer pock-marked by industrial chimneys spewing smoke into the air. And yet the winter months in the valley are still characterised by smoke, supplementing the ever-present winter mists, adding another layer of mystery to the amber lights and the call of wildlife, the sweet smell of logs from an army of wood-burning stoves and the more acrid backdrop of coal smoke from open fires.

Yet romantic as the log fire might be, if we are serious about tackling air pollution in the valley, the first casualty must surely be the coal- and wood-burning stoves so prevalent in the area. The Land Trust cannot solve the areas problems overnight, but it can help build a cleaner future through affordable, low energy, high quality housing for our children and our children’s children.

From Andrew Bibby

Monday, 15 October 2018

Of course it’s disappointing to read Hugh Wilson’s negative article on this Forum about the Calder Valley Community Land Trust’s proposals for High Street.  I’m secretary of the CLT, and we’ve been sharing our plans to bring affordable houses back to High Street locally for the past three years (in meetings in the Town Hall, the Methodist hall, in HB library, at Heptonstall Parish Council, in the press,  on HebWeb, at meetings with young people and neighbours etc etc). Just to remind you, this is a non-commercial development by a local community organisation with open membership, to which a number of us who are trustees give our time not because we’re gaining anything at all (apart from the occasional flak) but because we think that Hebden Bridge should be a community where all can find a home. I’d remind you that at present a lot of our young people are moving out because of property prices.

HebWeb has covered the various consultations we’ve held so you can read the archive stuff if you’re interested (the info is also on our website.) The CLT was launched locally in November 2014. In the Spring of 2016, lots of people came to the Town Hall where we first floated the idea of bringing homes back to streets which were demolished in the 1960s. This is because we’re aware that there’s been a strong feeling locally that, wherever possible, houses should be on sites which were previously used for housing or industry.  In Hebden Bridge, High Street (which once was a warren of back-to-backs and under- and overdwellings) is actually the one obvious site where the council has been prepared to donate the land so that affordable homes can be built. (Other land may be possible for commercial development but is not available to us, sorry!)

We refined the plans again and again after the two further public consultations in 2017 and one in April this year, and also after meeting Bridge Lane residents. We have scaled back the development, mainly because of local residents’ concerns (down from 27 to 24 and now 20). This is a pity in many ways, but twenty new homes we think will be better than nothing.

We’ve listened to concerns about traffic and parking and increased the number of parking places (I know, I know, some people think we should be banning cars altogether – sometimes you can’t win). And ironically – given this is what Hugh raises primarily – we have a landscape architect working with us who says that trees on the site can be planted which are actually more effective at taking pollution out of the atmosphere than the vegetation which has grown up there at the moment. We really do refute any suggestion that our plans will worsen air quality.

Of course Hugh is entitled to his opinions and the CLT doesn’t expect every person in the town to agree with our plans.  But we would like to think we deserve at least some credit for trying to be as transparent as we possibly can in what we’ve been proposing (how many people knew about the significant development further up Heptonstall Road which recently got planning consent with barely a murmur, the commercial company behind it having successfully kept below the radar?).

The problem of responding to criticism is that everything then becomes very negative. Much as we love HebWeb, contributions here can also sometimes be negative.  But we want to be positive. We are proud of the way the plans have come together (finally! Three years on!). We think it’s good that the town will have affordable homes, even if eventually we’re down to just twenty. We think it’s good to be rebuilding and bringing new life back to an area of the town which was one of the first residential areas. 

We’d like you all not only to support what we’re doing, but also (if you can afford it) think about making an investment in the development when we launch our community share issue later in the year.  We plan to raise £500,000 in share capital from within the local neighbourhood. Let’s be proud of what Hebden Bridge can do to build an inclusive community.

From John Noble-Milner

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

I also support the aims and principles of the Land Trust. I think the people involved are giving up their time and putting in a lot of effort for the general good of the community. I imagine we would have many political and environmental beliefs in common so I find it quite a strange feeling to be in opposition to this development.

I happened to read the flyer that was put through my door and so attended CVCLT’s first public meeting regarding this site three years ago. I think the Trust would have done well to personally contact residents in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development at that point. People with busy lives to get on with didn’t notice what seemed like another piece of junk mail so the first they knew about it was late spring this year.

At the first meeting the favourite option put forward to pursue was for four or five separate buildings on the site surrounded by greenery. It was also said that if local residents objected to the plan it simply wouldn’t go ahead. I was happy that CVCLT were doing something with the site rather than a commercial developer. I’m self employed and particularly in the couple of years after the catastrophic flood of 2015 I was very wrapped up in trying to survive. I wish I’d paid more attention to what CVCLT had been working on in that time. It was a complete shock to see the presentation this April of a three story terrace to be built on a platform the length of the site at roof height of the houses on Bridge Lanes.

Let’s be clear about what future housing development is planned for the area. It’s in the neighbourhood plan which supports building 45 dwellings at Callis Mill, Eastwood and 50 dwellings at Brown’s Field, Mytholm just to the west of this site, and 30 dwellings on the former Vale Centre on Stubbing Holme Road opposite the site. As well as 10 dwellings on Valley Road in Hebden Bridge itself and 40 dwellings just to the east at the former Walkleys Cloggs site, Burnley Road. All of these will happen.

It is a real shame that CVCLT haven’t been allocated any of those sites. They are stuck with the High Street, given to them for free presumably because it is so topographically challenging the council are glad to be rid of it. CVCLT’s own survey says ‘Major remodeling of the existing slopes must not be undertaken on this site under any circumstances'.

My main concern is that this proposal is to develop a large continuous terrace adjacent to the road that consistently records the worse air quality in Calderdale.

With the exception of just two months the monitor on Bridge Lanes records that the NO2 mean objective of 40µg/m3 was exceeded continuously since 2007 as follows:

Bridge Lane data

The majority of NO2 emissions are from motor vehicles and may contribute up to 80% in a setting such as this where a major road with constant heavy traffic passes through a steep sided valley. At times this is recorded at double the accepted legal limit.

New housing should not be built in such close proximity to the A646 with no solution to lower the current pollution levels. The demographic these homes are intended for include families with young children. They may be living on a raised platform but they will have to descend to street level where the concentration of pollution will be worse. Residents of Bridge Lanes of course already live at street level.

All evidence shows that air quality this poor adversely effects health and the development of children’s lungs in particular, but everybody exposed to these levels of pollution is at risk.

Building a continuous three story terrace on a platform at the height of the roofs of houses on Bridge Lanes can only worsen the already poor air quality by creating an urban canyon effect whereby wind flow perpendicular to the road traps polluted air by forming a vortex. On still days pollution will just hang in the air at street level.

The diagrams and artists impressions produced by CVCLT disproportionally over emphasize the amount of space in front of the development for replanting. In particular the diagram on page 26 of the Design and Access Statement wholly misrepresents how this terrace will effect pollution from the road in relation to it’s position opposite Bridge Lanes.

There is a serious risk of causing air quality to deteriorate further exacerbating the threat to the health of local residents.

Then there is the possibility of adding to the flood risk in the area.

Surface water run off from the site is to drain into the combined sewer. Having seen first hand the effects of the drainage system unable to cope with flood events it seems very likely this development will increase the likelihood of failure in the future. Few of the houses currently served by the combined sewer will have non-return valves fitted.

Measurement of ground water and surface water have taken place during or shortly after one of the driest periods in recent years.

On the subject of site measurements and surveys I don’t understand why none of the five test bores have been drilled into the slope where the foundations to support the structure are to be sited. It is highly likely that the old houses that were demolished into their cellars in the 1960’s will have had asbestos and other contaminants in their structure. If there is contaminated soil it will be extremely difficult to remove without compromising slope stability.

This isn’t a brown field site. It’s a small stretch of mature deciduous woodland. Effectively a small urban park, a wooded slope with a footpath running through the middle of it from the Fox and Goose to the Cuckoo Steps, just outside the town centre.

It is important to remember that the character and appearance of a conservation area is not only defined by its buildings, but also by the spaces between buildings, its trees and open areas, and the activities which take place there. Not my words, but I agree with them. That was written in Calderdale Council’s 2011 report ‘Hebden Bridge Conservation area Appraisal and Management Plan'. What changed? It mentions the ‘importance is the tree lined banking on the North side of Bridge Lanes’ specifically.

Whatever your thoughts about living in a conservation area, we do.

Ian Smith of Historic England wrote on 18/09/2018, "This undeveloped site lies within the Hebden Bridge Conservation Area and the terrace opposite and immediately to the east of this site are Grade II Listed Buildings."

The Heritage Impact Assessment considered that development of the site could significantly encroach into the important landscape setting of the conservation area. It could adversely impact on the gateway into the conservation area and semi-rural transitional character of this part of the conservation area. Important long-reaching open views from the adjacent hillsides into and out of valley, across the townscape, forming its characteristic landscape setting could be affected. It could also affect the setting of a number of listed buildings. As a result it recommended that the site should be deleted as an allocation.

Historic England would concur with that analysis and with the assessment of the degree of harm that the development of this site would be likely to cause.

Site LP1503 (this proposal) should be deleted’

I hope that CVCLT has many future successes. I hope they are allocated some of the areas that are to be developed for housing as laid out in the neighbourhood plan. It’s a real shame they have only been offered this site, which in my opinion really should not be built on.

From Nancy Noble-Milner

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

This is a very human and emotive subject and feelings are understandably running very high. I for one would be disappointed to see the situation descend into point scoring and tit for tat when the issues here are serious ones that should be acknowledged with sensitivity and given some respect.

As a Bridge Lanes resident I find the CVCLT's comments (on their Facebook page but not in these comments which is puzzling as they seem otherwise identical) that Bridge Lanes residents are concerned and upset because we are potentially losing a nice green view that will be replaced by housing, to be wholly incendiary, at best unhelpful. Anyone who takes the time to read local objections to these plans can see that the concerns are mostly about health, safety, privacy, historical and ecological matters and very little about the aesthetics. As a supporter of what the CVCLT are trying to do but not of this location as a place to do it, these comments have made me feel, once again, that when it comes to really listening to the residents that are going to be directly impacted by this project they are not coming through on their assurances to do just that. It feels like our anxieties are not being addressed and, it's starting to feel, deliberately ignored. The Facebook comment in particular have personally made me feel like my concerns are being mocked and belittled.

This is about so much more than losing a green space. 

The CVCLT comments also talk about electric vehicles. We would love to be able to afford an electric vehicle but until they are an affordable option for most people they remain on a wish list for the future. Our infrastructure also needs to change to accommodate the means of recharging all these greener cars and vans.  

The issue of burning coal and logs is not an invalid one and does contribute to air pollution and one day we'll all have solar panels and mini wind turbines so we can heat and power our homes that way (and also recharge our lovely electric cars) but along the Bridge Lanes stretch of the A646 it is not people chucking logs on their fires that is the main cause of air pollution, now is it? 

As it seems that previous comments have used this thread to openly advertise their fundraising projects I would like to take the opportunity here to advocate switching to a green energy supplier, we find Ecotricity to be very reliable at present but other green energy suppliers are available of course.

From Carole Denneny

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

I have read with interest the recent articles regarding the proposed high street development.

We have lived on Bridge Lanes since 1984 and have seen the land opposite develop from a well kept council site to one that has developed into a beautiful green space with wild life, shrubs and fruit trees in abundance. To us it is a beautiful green space that must be protected at all costs.

I fully endorse Hugh Wilsons thoughts regarding the proposed development not withstanding that we live in the middle of a terrace of Grade2 listed buildings directly opposite the proposed site. Yes we live in a beautiful house and yes we have coal fires (we are allowed smokeless fuel!). The downside of that is that we are north facing and need lighting even during daylight hours. We see and hear an endless stream of traffic, lorries etc incessantly throughout the day and night.

Just cast your minds back back to the last motorway chaos when the heavy goods vehicles trundled through this valley throughout the day and night, further exacerbating the heavy pollution we are subjected to. Nonetheless, we put up with this because life isn't perfect and if you love your home and neighbourhood one puts up with its downside.

I too believe in affordable housing but as yet no one has fully explained to me what exactly is affordable. There are houses for sale and to rent in abundance in this valley. Why are they not being let or sold? Also can anyone explain where these new (young) tenants are going to get the money to pay for these so called affordable rents. There is little work in the town and youth unemployment is particularly high.

Finally, only the criminally insane would want to disturb and build on a site with so much asbestos buried underneath it, waiting to be unearthed. Never mind hearsay find some of the residents (and there are some) who lived on High Street whose relatives worked with asbestos. They will be able to advise you how much of it they were paid to take home and bury in their cellars. So please CVLT, take your poorly researched plans elsewhere and leave our beautiful green space alone. 

From Jane B

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

I am another resident of Bridge Lanes and wholeheartedly support the aims of CVCLT and the network of CLTs. However, I urge those who have blandly supported this particular development to read the supporting documents attached to the planning application, and in particular the 2 geotechnical reports (High St by Solmek and Geoassist) and the structural engineers report (Adept).

Far from being a plus that there was previously housing on this site, it is a big minus because the lower parts of the buildings were left in situ and filled with rubble, which will complicate the digging of new foundations as pretty much all the slope (see maps) was covered in buildings and there is a risk of contaminants as there were some workshops. The Solmek report states that the foundations will have to go through the rubble to bedrock.

There is contamination of the land sufficient to be a danger to construction workers. Additionally, although asbestos was not detected, there is a distinct possibility that, owing to the age of the buildings, asbestos will have been used and a 'watching brief' is recommended.

Both geotechnical reports are cautious about slope stability and state that the vegetation is likely to be contributing to slope stability. No 'heavy plant' machinery can be used on the site (Geoassist). 

Surface water drainage is also a problem and the proposal now is to drain into a combined sewer to the east of the site half way up the slope. This is not in keeping with modern drainage practice see www.correctright.org and was initially, quite rightly, refused by Yorkshire Water. Now YW have placed a limit of 3.5l/sec on surface water drainage, but Adept calculate that flow could be up to 5.53l/sec. Backflow flooding from a combined sewer will be sewage contaminated.

The report states that the new retaining wall below the houses will need drainage to prevent a build up of hydrostatic pressure. No mention is made of potential problems with the current retaining wall to Bridge Lanes, even though the new housing will mean less soakaway on the slope. The severe surface water flooding and landslip of 2015-16 is still fresh in the memories of Calderdale residents.

As mentioned by others, air pollution is terrible in Bridge Lanes. The Design and Access statement states that this will be no worse and planting to absorb some pollutants is planned. There is no Traffic Survey or report from the Highways Authority (a statutory consultee) to back up the statement that the traffic will be no worse. Is it ethical to build homes for the disabled and families with young children, ie some of the more vulnerable members of society, which will expose them to this degree of damaging air pollution?

Finally, as regards building on the Vale Centre site, building with proper flood resilience measures such as open garaging underneath, is common in many flood prone areas.

From Jenny B

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

My mum was born on High Street, yes in the ‘slums’ that were actually solid little terraced housing, sadly lacking indoor bathrooms. Rather than invest in them, they were demolished.

Communities were dispersed to the council estates of Eaves, Dodnaze and Nest estate. My grandad worked at Cape and paid the price by losing his life to asbestosis aged 53. 

He never ever, mentioned taking asbestos home and I find this ridiculous vision of people carrying bags of dust down from Old Town, up the cuckoo steps and tipped into the overcrowded dwellings simply unimaginable. 

Nor is there any proof that the structures contain asbestos. Far more likely that the new builds that replaced them have.
And, look at those dispersed communities, look at the gentrified ex council estates where they were shipped out to, and tell me where the High Street community went. 

This is a chance to recreate that, local houses, ethical builds, whilst across the street you burn your wood in burners, and bemoan loss of greenery. 

From David Shepherd

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

This would be a desperately difficult site to build on. Yes, there were houses here once but that was then, this is now and the rules have changed quite a bit.

Other sites are available, possibly costing more to acquire, but significantly less to build affordable housing on.

Other correspondents have outlined most of the arguments so I won't repeat them.

There isn't any need for the trust to clutch at straws like this.

From Laura F

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I lived on Bridge Lanes till last year. I had to move because the pollution was taking such a toll on my health - exacerbating allergies and causing breathing problems. Not to mention the constant noise. I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to build more houses in this location.

If I understand it correctly, slow traffic, cars sitting idling in lines, and stopping and starting makes the air quality there even worse than it might be. It's sad to me to think of new affordable housing in Hebden being built in this location.  

From Michael Prior

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Of course the High Street site is unsuitable for housing. The local Green Party long ago made this point to Calderdale Council in the consultations to their absurd ‘development plan’ for Hebden Bridge. No notice, of course, was taken of this and they proceeded to designate just two land sites as zoned for new housing.

The trees which Andrew Bibby, rather optimistically suggests will reduce air pollution, may do something in ten or so years. But by then we might be moving into a low-carbon emissions era with lots more electric cars. We can all dream. What matters is the next few years when air pollution in the area will increase, partly because of vegetation removal, and, partly, because of the inevitable traffic jams which will ensure during construction. 

Is CVCLT seriously defending housing in which children growing up will suffer proven damage to their cognitive ability? Or perhaps this doesn’t matter because they will be in lower-income families and won’t be going to Oxbridge. I know this is a cheap shot but let’s get real; there is human damage associated with air pollution not just annoyance.

CVCLT is a well-meaning agency which has been placed in an impossible position by the awful ‘development plan’. There is in fact plenty of unused and under-used land in Hebden Bridge which could be used for housing. (Dare I mention the Brown Field let alone Victoria Road). The problem is that this is mostly land-banked by property companies whom the Council explicitly backed away from challenging when preparing the ‘development plan’.

On a positive not, what about a plan to reduce air pollution? Some time ago in a Hebweb thread, I raised the idea of having designated parking spaces for electric cars in Council car-parks with charging points. What about gradually introducing free street parking for such vehicles or developing the Stubbing Holmes site as electric-only? I vaguely remember a local Councillor suggesting that this was “being looked at”. Has he looking stopped yet? What about an out-of-town parking site with electric transit vehicles? Of course such things might reduce parking revenue as an objection similar to that which stopped the sub-station in Lees Yard.

From Tim M

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I for one welcome this development. It's a difficult site yes, but the proposals seem to take this into account. Almost all sites available in Hebden Bridge are going to be difficult to develop. I for one wouldn't want to live on the Children's Centre site, Browns field or Callis Mill with the flood risks.

Added to this - yes the site was passed to the CVLT for free - but land cost and availability is a significant reason why so little new housing gets built in this country. And we need new housing - especially for young families. All the town primary schools are suffering from a collapse in pupil numbers for example.

And consultation! The CVLT has done so much over the last few years, leaflets, publicity, workshops - its hard to see how they could have done more. 

Also, 'the council' has no money! So initiatives like this to build new houses for local people should surely be welcomed. 

Are 20 more houses really going to contribute to pollution in this location? Surely its the huge amount of traffic trundling down the A646 and stopping at the lights here that is the problem, better to tackle this surely? In fact - perhaps there's an opportunity here - what if the lights were moved/road layout adapted? 

Looked at the other way, this site with its proximity to the town and bus routes is a sustainable location.

Finally, this is an attractive, well thought out development, naysayers excepted. Much of the site is left green, and the new housing looks to blend harmoniously with the housing either side, and this 'wild' area is, for sure, nature rich, but is not very accessible and will the gardens that replace it really be worse? I'm not convinced.

From Hugh Wilson

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I'd urge anyone who thinks that the extremely well argued objections to this development are just NIMBYies moaning about views and greenery (when did they become a bad thing, by the way?) to have a look at this map

The link works shows that Bridge Lanes is not only the worst road in Hebden Bridge for air pollution, it's one of only two in Calderdale with annual mean NO2 readings above 50.

Here's some information on the health effects of air pollution.

The development on High Street, together with the almost certain development of the Vale site, is a kick in the teeth (actually, lungs) of current residents and frankly deeply unfair to the future inhabitants of these homes.

As others have said, if these dwellings are aimed at young families and disabled people they are aimed at those who are most susceptible to the health effects of poor air quality. Why should people who need affordable housing have to breathe toxic air? It hardly matters if the development itself will make the situation worse or not (though seriously, how could it not?) - Bridge Lanes is already a black spot. 

Given the seriousness of this issue, we wanted to gauge the depth of our (Hebden Royd) council's discussions on all of this, so we asked for the minutes of the meeting that agreed the High Street development. There are no minutes, because there was no discussion.

Could a councillor explain this to us please? I'm no expert on local government and I may have missed something, so in the light of the discussion on this thread and the very serious and considered objections voiced by contributors, would a councillor care to explain the speed and unanimity of this decision? I'm interested in the council view on this, because I wonder what it means for the Vale site and, potentially, the further deterioration of air quality on Bridge Lanes. Is Hebden Bridge as a town happy to keep developing in and around its most polluted street, and housing its inhabitants there? What is the long term rationale here? 

David and Andrew: we totally accept you are in this for the right reasons. But this is the wrong site. 

From Arla R

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I wonder how many of the people here who support this development have been along and actually looked at this piece of land recently?  I mean, it's beautiful, it really is.  

At the moment there are rowan berries, hawthorn berries, rosehips and many colourful large trees preparing to drop their leaves.  It's stunning.

I would challenge you to visit this site a few times, say at least three times over the next couple of weeks, and really look at it, and imagine it being replaced by a grim, featureless high modern building.  All the trees cut down and the land bulldozed over.  Make sure to look at it from above, not just from the main road - it's lovelier than you might think from that view.

Maybe you still won't care because you won't have to look at it all the time, but just maybe you'll see something of why some of us really do care about the land and trees there.

From Gary W

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

It's noteworthy that all those that are voicing disapproval for the housing development on High Street seem to come from those living directly opposite/very near to the proposed site. Whilst these concerns are obviously genuine, they also reflect perceived (and completely understandable) self interest. If all proposed housing developments could be stopped because those living nearest to it disproved, no new housing would ever be built. 

I do have sympathy for those living on Bridge Lanes. I'm sure that if I lived there, I too would be against it. But, in my view, this is one of those unfortunate issues where the wider benefit to the town trumps the negative impact on a number of close by households.  

From Kez Armitage

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The possibility that there might be asbestos present on this site warrants further investigation before any planning decision is made.

I was interested in the report by Solmek (Phase 2 Site Investigation Report). Although no asbestos was identified in their bore hole samples, they do acknowledge that there is the potential for asbestos to be present in the site. They advise that a 'watching brief' should be kept as the site is stripped and excavated.

I don't think this is acceptable. Firstly, all their bore holes appear to be along the line of the existing path (which of course was the road surface of the former High Street). As this has always been a road, it's unlikely that they're going to find anything significant underneath it. Surely their bores should have covered the sites of the houses demolished in the 1960's (parts of which are of course the site of the proposed new houses)? That's where any contamination is likely to be.

Secondly, is it really acceptable to wait until the digging equipment is on site, and hope that the workforce happen to notice any asbestos? Once asbestos is broken up, fibres are immediately released into the air and, depending on humidity and weather conditions, can spread rapidly. Once inhaled, the fibres stay in the lungs forever, acting like small razors slashing and lacerating the lung's surface causing irreparable and often fatal damage. That is why it is still treated with such caution, as anyone who has had asbestos removal work undertaken will confirm. I'm not trying to scaremonger, it's just that asbestos is really such dangerous stuff and I certainly wouldn't want to be walking down Heptonstall Road or Bridge Lanes (let alone living in the area) when the groundworks are being carried out.

Solmek admit there may be asbestos present, and now we have anecdotal evidence that this indeed is the case. Surely, for the peace of mind of residents, visitors, motorists and walkers, we need conclusive evidence either way rather than just proceeding on a wing and a prayer. 

From Alan Truman

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Having been to a few of the consultation events and having followed this development with great interest, as a former civil engineer specialising in small scale environmentally appropriate development on the continent (amongst many other projects, I’m finding it very hard to pick any holes in the plans I have seen.

It’s a shame with contentious planning applications that there is always one group that will be inevitably dissatisfied with the findings of the planning officer. Of course those living nearby will be up in arms about such a proposal siting any other reason apart from “it will spoil my view” in their objections. Indeed most comments on the official planning portal comments section seem to be copy and pasted from the group response.

This is understandable. No-one wants new houses built near to them. Unfortunately, there is a housing crisis going on and Hebden Bridge in particular demonstrates how many of those raised here cannot ultimately afford to continue to keep living here after they have flown the coup.

The (not for profit) developers have consulted much more so than a regular development, the houses are on brownfield former housing area and the design is sympathetic yet bold in its design. I think we can all agree that Hebden Bridge is definitely bold. Young folk need affordable houses, not just here but wherever possible, restrictions (ie in the flood zone) notwithstanding.

I wholeheartedly support this development. Can we please have some comment on here from from others aside from those that live opposite, young folk in particular. I’d be really keen to get a wide range of opinion on this, much like in the planning portal, where opinion is split more or less 50/50.

From Nichola Cortese

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I understand that Andrew Bibby has worked hard on this project but that does not negate the legitimate objections surrounding the health and well-being of both current residents and the tenants that he is proposing for this new development.

Residents of Bridge Lanes have worked really hard to highlight the very serious and valid issues around this development. We have asked questions and feel that answers are still lacking and that a certain deflection tactic  - David Nugent poetically describing sweet smelling logs and Andrew Bibby using this forum as free space to advertise for funding - has been employed. 

Those in support can’t possibly be reading objections or understanding them. We all agree with the need for social housing and I repeat again and again that this about suitability of location. To blandly chant the mantra ‘we need more housing’ is facile and does not give this proposed development the serious depth of consideration that it requires. 

We are NOT acting out of self-interest unless self-interest means valid concerns for our health and the health of our children and for the young, vulnerable or disabled people who will be living on contaminated land breathing in poisonous air.

I will keep this simple:

Questions for CVLT:

If you truly believe in providing affordable housing for young and vulnerable people, why are you risking their health by housing them in the already dangerously polluted area of Hebden on a contaminated piece of land? 

Is this because you are being gifted this land? Would you be so keen to place these young families or vulnerable and disabled people on this site if you had to pay for it? 

With plans to develop Vale site into more housing or a car park, how does this rest with you ethically to create what will technically be a ‘pollution ghetto’ in this end of Hebden? How can these developments seriously be considered in isolation? 

Can you give Bridge Lanes residents a 100% guarantee that there is NO asbestos present given that you have not actually tested the rubble in which it would be present? We know someone prepared to sign a statement saying that his parents stored asbestos in their house for a shilling.

Can you explain why the Ecological Impact Survey was carried out at the deadest time of year in January  - when many animals are hibernating and many species of plants are not evident - and not followed up by another in April-June as recommended by the surveyors? 

How can you skip over the recommendation from Heritage England to remove this site from the list of potential development sites? 

I look forward to having some honest answers.

From Jeremy Godden

Thursday, 18 October 2018

I would be interested to know what is meant by 'affordable' so this or similar developments help the right people. (unlike the very expensive 'affordable' houses tagged on to developments by the present and recent Conservative governments.)

According to the charity Turn2Us, affordable rents should be no more than 35% of net wages. A single person on minimum wage (most young people), should therefore be paying little over £400 a month on rent. (Unfortunately to buy a house at the old used formula of 3.5 times salary would seem to be a fantasy).

The proposed development on High Street appears to be quite challenging structurally and therefore potentially expensive. Would it be aiming to be realistically affordable at about £400 a month  or would it be aimed at more mainstream prices? Obviously houses for couples would be more than this if both couples working.

From Michael Prior

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Just to be clear, I live well away from the proposed development, thankfully for my health.

From Carole Denneny

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Further to my earlier comments regarding the proposed development, perhaps members of the CVLT could enlighten all interested parties as to their definition of "affordable social housing".

Many people may not know this but these houses are for rent and not for sale. Therefore are not going to be step on to the ladder of home ownership as some people seem to think. Granted if the new tenants are in work as we assume they will be then by definition the rent should be affordable and they will have a nice new build in which to live.

However, in the current climate and with wages in the Calder Valley falling behind the rest of the country, and with a high incidence of unemployment are these under 25/35 year olds, going to be able to sustain paying the "affordable"rent or will they have to resort to State supplements via Universal credit?

What it does mean as far as I can establish is if these tenants need help to pay their rent as many of them may well do, the subsidy from the public purse will be less than that of other council and housing association properties in this area.

Are we really talking about affordable housing or is this a smoke screen to get a row of council houses up on High Street no matter what. Almost everyone who has posted a comment is in agreement that there needs to be decent accessible homes for the young and disabled to live in at a price they can afford. However, this site is just not appropriate for all the reasons already described by other objectors

From June E

Thursday, 18 October 2018

As a local resident with an 18 year old son, I support the High Street development to provide affordable housing for present and future generations.

I understand the objections of the near neighbours to the site. Few of us like change, and few of us would welcome new building next to our homes. But, we have a system of planning laws and processes in the UK so that decisions are not made by near neighbours – otherwise nothing would ever be built!

The needs and concerns of the whole neighbourhood, town and region are considered instead.

The grave concerns raised about air quality are certainly legitimate. It is an issue to be tackled urgently by individuals, local and national government. But it affects everyone and is not cause for a moratorium on house building. If we did not allow people to live in areas of illegal air quality, then most of the eight million inhabitants of London would have to be evacuated. Along with the current residents of Bridge Lanes. 

I guess that most of us contributing to this discussion live in comfortable and secure homes. Lucky us. The UK - and Calderdale is no exception - is in the midst of a housing crisis.

In 2017, Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said, “It’s shocking to think that today, more than 300,000 people in Britain are waking up homeless. Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy, hostel room with their children….” The figure included 128,000 children, many living with their family in a single room without cooking facilities. 

Hebden Bridge is fortunate to be surrounded by green space. The partial loss of a small green space at High Street must be balanced against this imperative housing need. 

From Alan Truman

Thursday, 18 October 2018

In response to Hugh Wilson.

Having investigated the alleged "waving through" of said planning application by Hebden Royd Town Council, I did a bit of digging myself, contacting the Town Council and contacting a couple of councillors myself for clarification.

A discussion was had, involving one of the trustees of the CLT. Not one member of the public was there to object to this proposal, telling when over 25 people turned up to last night's meeting (Wednesday 17th Oct) to voice their objections to the development of Hebble End Mill. 

If the strength of feeling was truly that strong, why didn't even one of the objectors bother to turn up to have their voice heard. Minutes of meetings don't go into depth with regards to the nature of the discussions. Otherwise the minutes would be dozens of pages long. Rather the ultimate decision is noted and (on occasion) a recorded vote (if so requested).

Planning applications are taken on a case by case basis and having sat in on various planning applications at this level over the years, all those present are given an opportunity to speak. The Town Council is split 12 Labour 6 Lib Dem so if there was contention a recorded vote would have been asked for. Therefore it sounds to me as though the vote was unanimous, so nothing political at all.

Simply a common sense response to a well consulted and much needed small scale planning application.

From Kez Armitage

Thursday, 18 October 2018

I wonder if Alan Truman could justify his assertion that most of the objections on the official Calderdale planning website are simply cut and pasted? I've looked at all the comments, and there are possibly one or two cases (one where a neighbour reposted a comment from someone who was having difficulty with his computer), but of the 60 or so objections, to say 'most' are plagiarised is quite simply nonsense.

Even if that was the case, is it really a cause for concern? Some people have a way with words, and if you perhaps don't, is it really a problem if you effectively say 'me too' to their posts? Why try to re-invent the wheel when someone else has said exactly what you want to? 

Another problem with Mr Truman's comments is that he infers that the objections come from people living adjacent to the site ('there is always one group that will be inevitably dissatisfied with the findings') No, Mr Truman, objections come from people who live elsewhere in the valley. Someone has already posted to that effect. I live well over a mile away. Look at the addresses of objectors, and you'll see they are certainly not all from Bridge Lanes.

Surely Mr Truman, as a former civil engineer, you must appreciate the difficulty of developing such a site? I've talked to a current civil engineer who says that, in the whole of Hebden Bridge, this is probably one of the most complex and impractical sites to develop. Most developers wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, unless of course the money is right. And a high development cost rather defeats the object of the whole scheme.

As objectors have said ad nauseam, nobody, absolutely nobody, denies that we need affordable housing in Hebden Bridge. It's just that this site is, quite simply, not the right place, and not the solution. 

From Nancy Noble-Milner 

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Do you think perhaps the reason why people did not attend last night's meeting is because they were completely unaware of it taking place? If we'd known we certainly would have been there as would, I'm pretty sure, lots of other local residents. Since these meetings are not broadly advertised, have you any suggestions as to how we find out when and where they take place?

From Alan Truman

Friday, 19 October 2018

The meeting was over 3 weeks ago as stated, not this week which was an entirely different planning application as was made clear (Hebble End).

Papers for council meeting are widely available and are displayed around the town in a timely manner. As stated, 25 residents protesting Hebble End were invested enough in the planning process to make this week's meeting of full council, conveniently located at the Town Hall.

Why then was no one there 3 weeks ago? “I didn’t know about it” doesnt cut it. Were residents (or even one of the 50+ official objectors so vehemently opposed to these plans they would be following this process carefully from start to finish.

In response to Kez Armitage, yes my decades in civic engineering have given me some insight and having shown these plans to various colleagues, architects and developers, they all share the same opinion that having looked through the plans and consultation history that they are sound and holistic in their approach. I’ve read through the planning application and those that don’t have the same last name (of which there are many) are all of a similar vein, this is fine and to be expected but don’t discount the many supporters of this scheme (of whom there are many). Neither should you indeed cast dispersions over the way discussion was handled at Town Council level when no one turned up to voice their concerns.

From Jane B

Friday, 19 October 2018

In response to Alan Truman's post:

His assertion that the residents of Bridge Lanes are just a self interested pressure group is unjustified. I think that most people will understand that those closest to the development will read the supporting documents carefully and discuss the meaning of those documents. Mr Truman acknowledges that the site is 'challenging'.

The statement that there was extensive consultation is true and many of us attended those meetings and expressed reservations about the site including surface water drainage.

However, I would point out that the structural engineer's (Adept) report is dated 23 March 2018, the geotechnical engineers' report are March 2018 (Solmek) and 9 July 2018 (Geoassist) so it is only since the planning application that we have seen these documents which are full of reservations eg 'the existing  slopes are essentially stable under present conditions' (note 'essentially' not absolutely); 'Confirmation will be required that the foundation construction operations have been undertaken with minimal impact on the overall stability of the slope'. 

I, and others, have made the point about surface water drainage into a combined sewer (initially refused by Yorkshire Water) see www.connectright.org and the disparity between the max rate permitted by YW and the predicted max rate.

As regards asbestos, it is clear that the Solmek samples were taken from the road, hence their caveat about 'adjacent buildings' where asbestos may well have been used (eg for fire protection in houses in multiple occupation and workshops.) 

Once again, I urge all those who have supported this development to read the 'supporting' documents carefully rather than just saying what a good idea it is. The air pollution, geotechnical and drainage problems are such that it is a site that is best left to nature. 

From Nancy Noble-Milner

Friday, 19 October 2018

I will repeat myself for emphasis; whenever the town council meeting was held regarding the High Street development, we certainly hadn't any clue whatsoever it was taking place. We saw no signs advertising the meeting along our road, which you would think, given it was regarding the bank opposite, would be a prime location to put some signs up notifying local residents. I suppose if they were anything like the planning notices put up by the council (one A4 yellow sign on a lamp post for the whole stretch of Bridge Lanes and one on Heptonstall Road - blink and you'll miss them) then one could be forgiven for not spotting them. I like to think I'm a fairly observant person but as yet do not possess telepathic abilities. And with regards to the same surname cropping up a couple of times ... is it reasonable to expect individual members of the same family to want to voice their concerns? Lastly, I'd like to draw your attention to most of the supporting comments on the planning application. Any similarities there? 

From Alan Truman

Friday, 19 October 2018

I would like to point Nancy Noble Milner to a marvellous invention called… The Internet.

One would assume that if a development such as this was taking place nearby and there were concerns around the consultation, one might be poised ready and waiting for a chance to weigh in on said proceedings during the planning application.

I have managed to navigate the not-at-all complex Town Council planning procedure from the comfort of my own home. Below are two handy links, one is the September newsletter form the CLT, a group I would have been following closely with interest had I issues with the above, which announces the opening of the planning application (all Hebden Royd Town Council boundary based applications come through here as well as Calderdale).

And here is the agenda for the meeting held 3 weeks ago, quite clearly listing the planning application. Notice boards around town, online, staples to nearby lampposts. What more can you ask for?  

From Kez Armitage

Saturday, 20 October 2018

In a sense, Nancy Noble-Milner and Alan Truman are creating a sideshow by talking about the Town Council and information regarding their meetings. It most certainly doesn't advance the argument of the rights and wrongs of this development.

The Town Council, like any private individual, can only give an opinion on the development. It's Calderdale Council's Planning Committee that will make the final decision. And to be honest, I don't think that, had all the members of public at the relevant meeting been opposed to the development, the Town Council could have possibly come out with any other opinion than supporting the application to the hilt, as of course they have done.

There has already been a lot of support and involvement from both the Town Council and Calderdale MBC for this project. It ticks some of the boxes for the need for affordable housing in the area - and there are very few people who would not agree with that. But of course the objectors are concerned with the practicalities of this specific site.

One can only hope that the Planning Officers form a considered and fair opinion based on local observation, the logistics of developing such an awkward and uncertain site, and their own guidelines. The ultimate decision is of course with our Councillors. They need to be sure to vote with their heads, and not their hearts. (Incidentally, although the official expiry date for representations has now passed, you can in fact continue to comment right up to and including the Planning Committee meeting, the date for which has yet to be determined).

From Nichola Cortese

Monday, 22 October 2018

In response to Alan Truma, would you please put your energies into actually addressing the very valid issues that objectors - almost 70 now on the council planning portal and not the 50-50 split your earlier stated - have put forward?

Have you read all the supporting documents? It is important to go through them with a fine toothcomb as many things have been skipped over e.g. it has just been brought to light that The Solmek High Street report seems to have been carried out based on a less intensive development of only 7 houses and not 20 homes.

I would like to draw your attention to Jane B's comment (19th Oct). She has summarised the issues around this perfectly. I also posed some questions in an earlier comment. Could you address those? 

From David Nugent and Andrew Bibby for the CLT

Monday, 22 October 2018

Thank you for those people locally who support the Community Land Trust and our proposals for the old High Street site, and we're sorry that we're obviously not able to please everyone.

We've read carefully the comments on this forum, and have held back until now from responding.  

We began working up the High Street proposal almost three years ago (proposals like these take a great deal of time), because of the very strong steer we had at the time from people at our first consultation (Feb 2016) that any new housing in the town should be where housing used to be, not on new sites. High Street of course was once densely packed terraces of houses. Affordable rental housing (the Government defines this at less than 80% of market rents, although we are hoping to be below this level) is easier to achieve if the development land value can be taken out of the equation, as it is for High Street which has been gifted to the CLT, but this was not the primary reason for progressing the High Street plans.

Over the last three years, we have adapted the plans in the light of all sorts of comments and concerns we've received (design, parking, disability issues etc).  More recently, we tried very hard to meet concerns from Bridge Lanes neighbours, who told us they were particularly concerned at the density of the development – so we went back to the architects and got them to scale it back. But we absolutely do not accept that the homes we are proposing will worsen air quality, so we feel we have wrongly become the target for a (legitimate) concern which should be focusing on the real cause of A646 pollution. 

It's disappointing that we haven't managed to carry the whole town with us, despite our efforts, but planning issues always stir strong emotions.  Nevertheless we remain committed to the idea that our town can, through direct, bottom-up community endeavour, create new, good quality, affordable homes, fit for the whole of the twenty-first century. We believe that the proposed twenty new homes in High Street will be just that.

PS.  Don't forget that the fifth and final public meeting organised by the CLT in recent months is next Mon (29th) in the Town Hall.  The theme this time looks at the past, and future, of public/council housing. 

From Hugh Wilson

Monday, 22 October 2018

Andrew and David, Thanks for your response.

I accept that you have worked hard to meet the concerns of Bridge Lanes residents, and that the plans are as good as they can be, given the location and intensity of development. We'll have to agree to disagree on the potential effect of 20 dwellings and associated cars and deliveries (plus the loss of a large amount of greenery) on air pollution levels on the most polluted stretch of road anywhere west of Halifax. 

"Good quality" homes though? Some of them perhaps. But the topography of Bridge Lanes massively favours the current terrace, and massively disadvantages the proposed development. 

Our current houses are like inverse, upside down L-shapes. Only a small proportion of them actually front on to Bridge Lanes, with the much larger proportion facing the river and Horsehold bank, and actually protected from the noise and toxic air of Bridge Lanes by the banking. The new development will have no such protection, and will have to face directly on to Bridge Lanes. There will be no escape from either noise or air pollution. 

So good quality? I'm sure they're of good and sustainable design and that CVLT has done its best in this respect. But I'd say the 30% of dwellings at the west end (nearest the Fox and Goose, where the new development gets closest to the road) will be really quite unpleasant places to live for large stretches of the day. They also back on to Heptonstall Road, and will be assaulted by the sound of engines revving hard to get up that steep hill too. To be fair, in this respect the dwellings on the far eastern edge (nearest town) will probably be OK.

I understand that sentences like "it's disappointing that we haven't managed to carry the whole town with us, despite our efforts" are an attempt to portray the nearly 70 exceptionally well researched and articulated objections on the Council planning portal (and more here - noticeably ignored) as the rantings of a luddite minority.  

I only hope that a suggested site visit by councillors and other interested parties happens at rush hour, and everyone gets to stand on the proposed western edge of the development, tasting the air and being driven slowly mad by the thundering traffic. That might give everyone responding to the 'affordable housing' dog whistle pause. Is this just repeating the mistakes of the past with a modern, progressive twist? An inappropriately intensive development in an unsuitable and, in fact, unhealthy location, with a better one right around the corner? It's ironic that the alternative supported by Bridge Lanes' residents would likely be less damaging to the mental and physical health of affordable housing tenants than a large chunk of the current High Street plan. 

From Michael Prior

Monday, 22 October 2018

David Nugent and Andrew Bibby really must answer the central question and not divert the argument.

The extent to which the development will increase air pollution is arguable though one must feel that some extra cars must push it up.

However what is firm is that existing air pollution on the site is well above that which damages human health with particularly serious problems for cognitive development in children.

How can you justify housing people in such an environment? Either respond that you don't think it matters or deny the scientifically based evidence. Which?

From Nichola Cortese

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The growing concerns about the effects of air pollution on our health and in particular, the health of young lungs cannot be ignored. With this proposed development, in conjunction with the Vale site also earmarked for development, why have so many people lost the ability to think long term and consider the impact this will have on the already dangerously high levels of pollution in this end of Hebden? 

Guardian: Children are breathing dirty air – and parents are being left to fix it

From Anthony Rae

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Can I provide some information and comments on this from three perspectives: as a (non-voting) member of the Neighbourhood Planning Committee, which is developing the new local planning framework for Hebden Royd; as coordinator of Calderdale Friends of the Earth, which has been campaigning on air quality in Calderdale and West Yorkshire, for a number of years; and - in a personal capacity - as a supporter of the High Street scheme, not as a member of the Calder Valley Land Trust but as someone who’s attended a number of their public consultation sessions.

  • The site is just one of two allocated in the emerging Calderdale Local Plan for new housing across all of Hebden Royd. Allowing for the fact that the other one is on Greenbelt, and arguably shouldn’t proceed on those grounds, this would means that the local plan is allocating new sites in the area for just 20 houses over a 15 year period; so a provision of barely more than one new house a year. If the objections were to prevail that number would drop on newly allocated sites to precisely zero. 
  • In response to this situation, and utilising different and more locally specific selection criteria, the draft Hebden Royd & Hilltop Parishes neighbourhood plan is proposing to allocate around 7-8 new housing sites along the valley from Callis to Mytholmroyd, and High Street is also one of these. These Neighbourhood Plan allocations would increase the number of potential housing units on new sites to in excess of 200, with the Neighbourhood Plan also expressing a preference for affordable and social housing. So High Street has been recognised by both planning frameworks as being an important opportunity to meet housing need in an area where developable sites are known to be scarce.
  • Whilst the opportunity to consult on the site allocations in the draft Local Plan has now closed (in any case the current planning application is likely to be determined beforehand under what is left of the existing UDP framework), the Neighbourhood Plan site allocations together with its wider approach to housing provision will be out for formal public consultation towards the end of this year and then again in Spring 2019. You can download the ‘preview’ version here and the section and policies on housing are in chapter 6 page 22. You’ll see that the former Vale Centre site off Stubbing Holme Road, which was also mentioned in Hugh Wilson’s original post, is another of those proposed housing allocations (policy 8 page 23). Any of them located in flood zones would need to use innovative designs to raise the inhabited areas above flood level (see policy 9i on page 23), so this is another area where the NP has had to respond to local circumstances in a way which still allows positive development to proceed.
  • The Neighbourhood Plan also looks at and responds to the issues behind Hebden Bridge’s air quality problem; see chapter 8 page 49. It has noted that Calderdale’s strategic transport model is forecasting substantial increases in road traffic along the A646, which can only exacerbate the air quality exceedances in the town. (I’ll also point out that the need to manage the amount of road traffic generation that would originate from its proposed housing allocations is also referenced in the Neighbourhood Plan at paragraph 8.4 page 29). Across Calderdale, the corridor improvement programmes, which in theory should also be providing solutions to these traffic related impacts, in fact seem to potentially be making them worse: removing obstacles to smooth flowing traffic has the effect of increasing the capacity of the road corridor, which then attracts more traffic. From an FOE perspective, I know that years of campaigning at the Calderdale, West Yorkshire and national levels have so far brought little prospect that real solutions to Hebden’s air pollution are going to be found immediately. So neither of these two wider contexts is particular promising. 
  • However the argument that because this site is located on the boundary of the Hebden Bridge Air Quality Management area (AQMA) it should then be refused planning permission is not consistent with how the planning framework generally determines applications in such locations. Whilst the site assessment undertaken for the local plan does refer to the need for possible mitigation on air quality grounds, that would be implemented by features to be provided within the building, not by a refusal of the application. (Also if you look at figure 1 on page 7 of this document, you’ll see that its modelling suggests that the High Street site isn’t most affected by the AQMA’s exceedances). More generally, if we’re faced with two choices to be made in areas impacted by air pollution - either to refuse all new development proposals within AQMAs because at the moment air pollution limits are being exceeded, or alternatively to solve the air quality problem directly so that all residents, whether of new or existing buildings, and pedestrians can breathe clean air - then I’m quite clear we should be pursuing the latter approach, and this is why in our response to the local plan, FOE has been most critical about its failure to disclose or tackle rising road traffic levels. But if this is the case, then the implication that the Community Land Trust is being irresponsible in proposing development at this location is unfair.
  • John Noble-Milner refers to the recommendation by Historic England that the site should be de-allocated following the position taken by the local plan’s heritage impact assessment. Whilst its comments about respecting the setting of listed buildings need to be addressed, I think there is room on the other hand for a debate about its judgement that, following the demolition in the 1960s of the previous houses on the site, ‘the site has been long established as an important open space within the townscape, with many mature trees and paths through following the line of the old road’, and that therefore its development ‘could adversely impact on the gateway into the conservation area and semi-rural transitional character of this part of the conservation area’. This view, that the High Street site is now located at the ‘edge’ of the town and the point at which urban > rural transition is taking place, is open to challenge because otherwise it ends up retrospectively validating those decades of disastrous demolitions which opened up empty spaces (some now greened, others not) in our town centres. Following that logic would lead to developers seeking sites elsewhere: away from sustainable town centres, and in the upland Greenbelt. A core principle of the Neighbourhood Plan is to counter that possibility, but that then means that the choices about development sites have to be made within town centres. This can lead to disagreements, particularly when they are about sites which have recently greened over and will be valued accordingly. It’s the role of planning frameworks like the Local and Neighbourhood Plans to attempt to resolve these choices in advance, and I'm sure they will be returned to in the forthcoming public consultation on our Neighbourhood Plan.

So there are quite a number of areas where Calderdale’s development control officers will have to make careful and balancing judgements over the next few months before this planning application is determined. But we should all be grateful that we do actually have a Community Land Trust working in the Upper Valley to bring forward much-needed housing developments of the right type, and I hope they will persevere.

From Paul D

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

I did wonder for a while how long it would take people who live on Bridge Lanes to quite get what that big box outside the co-op measured. 

I felt I was (quite alone or so it seemed) just shouting into a barrel about the pollution on Market Street, tourism, the basic prostitution of large parts of the town economy to vehicle dependent tourism, commuter fuelled pollution, and the scourge of the more rail driven fat drunk blokes weekender ruination of the place I grew up in.

But places change, times change, needs must. Nobody agreed to the demolition of High Street (and the rest - it was a community that fell) and the scattering of those dry as snuff shops, those families, the bonds broken. It was taken from us and then the instability of the land was used as an excuse to build on the tennis courts. 

People who ripped the heart out of a community are long gone, but why listen to those whose timeline (mostly) just see that grass bank opposite and not the lives that were lived there. The businesses, the families, the joy that was had there. 

We need to offer hope to our children. It matters not where they came from, but without housing there is no hope. 

From Michael Prior

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Just for information:

Guardian: Childhood obesity linked to air pollution from vehicles

From Alan Truman

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

By Michael Prior's methodology no house should ever be built again. Every house built adds at least 1 potential car. The problem with air pollution (and its links to obesity) are real. Adding 20 cars to the main arterial road through the valley will be of such insignificance that it barely warrants mentioning.

From Michael Prior

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The problem is not one of adding more cars; it is of building houses in a site which is already heavily polluted. Children's health will be damaged if they grow up in the proposed houses.

From Alan Truman

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

That claim could be made about any potential housing development up and down the valley. Houses are needed, the housing crisis is real (as is air pollution obviously).

Low impact houses and the uptake of electric cars (dropping in price all the time) will naturally help reduce our pollution levels over the coming years. In the short term Hebden needs houses for its young people otherwise the town will continue in its gentrification being an oasis for the rich and a no go area for first time buyers or renters.

There is already a trend in both those markets for folk moving out into Tod, Mytholmroyd and beyond, good for those areas perhaps but what about Hebden being an innovator in terms of how it encourages its home grown talent to stay in the area rather than taking it to those areas or further afield still.

From Julie C

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Spot on Alan, exactly the point I was making in my post at the end of September, re Hebden Bridge demographic change and its impact.

From Kez Armitage

Monday, 12 November 2018

It's interesting that the development of 14 apartments to the West of Rose Villas on Heptonstall Road (14/01060/OUT) which was refused by Calderdale Council in 2015, but allowed on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, has once again appeared in the latest planning applications on Calderdale's website (18/01320/RES).

Calderdale's original decision notice states "The proposed scale of the development would, in the opinion of the Local Planning Authority, fail to enhance or preserve the character and appearance of the Hebden Bridge Conservation Area in which the site is located and, as such, would be contrary to Policy BE18 (Development within Conservation Areas) of the Replacement Calderdale Unitary Development Plan." 

There were also concerns from the Town Council about the development contributing to already increased traffic flows on Heptonstall Road and about the geological stability of the site in question (which of course is immediately above the High Street site.) It's particularly notable that the many concerns at that time seem to have magically disappeared with reference to the current High Street proposal!

It looks as though the Rose Villas houses are going to go ahead. If they - and High Street - are built, I simply can't see how Heptonstall Road will be able to cope, both during construction and afterwards.

The HebWeb has received some messages which haven't been posted because they haven't followed our Forum Guidelines. Some messages have been edited. Please keep to facts and points of view. Thanks - Ed

Previously, on the HebWeb

HebWeb News: Hebden Bridge development a step nearer (Aug 2018)

HebWeb News: Plans to bring back a lost Hebden Bridge street (April 2018)

HebWeb News: £37,000 grant will help Hebden Bridge get affordable housing (Dec 2016)

HebWeb News:Can the ghost houses of Hebden Bridge be brought back to life? (Feb 2016)