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High Street Development

From Kez Armitage

Friday, 4 January 2019

Hopefully the final nail in the coffin of this ridiculous scheme has been placed by - wait for it - Calderdale Council!

Their own Environmental Health Services department has recommended refusal "on the grounds that it would put existing and future residents at risk of harm due to air pollution, contrary to Calderdale's Replacement UDP policy EP8 and paragraph 170(e) of the National Planning Policy Framework."

In their submission, they point out that pollution levels in Bridge Lanes are already well above target, and that "the proposed development would have several impacts in terms of air quality. It would build up the northern embankment and further restrict dispersion of traffic related emissions".

Is it really worth risking the health of people living on Bridge Lanes, along with those who would be living in the proposed development, just because this is a bit of 'free' land, and therefore cheap to develop (although even that is questionable given the topograp hy of the site)?

Not one of the objectors to this scheme denies that we need social housing in Hebden Bridge. Of course we do! But if there's any suggestion that this development might place people's health at risk, it quite simply must not go ahead.

From Alan Truman

Monday, 7 January 2019

A whiff of "fake news" coming from the above post.

Despite genuine concerns to do with pollution (a factor already being faced by current residents). There was no "recommend refusal" from the consultee. Rather a series of suggested interventions for the applicant to follow as per the usual consultee comments. The applicant(s) has to my knowledge adapted these plans on numerous times following many open meetings and consultations with residents. I don't doubt that any issues flagged within the planning will be dealt with similarly.

From Kez Armitage

Monday, 7 January 2019

I can only quote one of the Consultee Comments which appeared on the Calderdale Planning Portal on 2nd January 2019.

In that submission, Dr Thomas Moorhouse of Calderdale Council's Environmental Health Services says of the proposal (ie 18/00948/FUL), and I quote:

"Environmental Health therefore considers that the proposal should be refused permission on the grounds that it would put existing and future residents at risk of harm due to air pollution, contrary to Calderdales Replacement UDP policy EP8 and paragraph 170(e) of the National Planning Policy Framework."

If Dr Moorhouse doesn't actually mean that, then surely I can be excused for thinking he does! 

From Stephen Holt

Thursday, 10 January 2019

If this development is granted Richard Seaman and the Chair of the Planning Committee should have be made personally liable to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) for the land slippage that will happen to Heptonstall Road and the A646 and any subsequent injuries or loss of life.

From Michael Prior

Friday, 11 January 2019

I hope your optimism, Kez, with regard to this proposal is justified. However, Calderdale Planning has made many weird decisions and they could yet ignore the advice of their own Health officers. This is particularly likely given that the origin of the proposal lies in the Council decision to specifically zone this site in the Development Plan as one of only two in Calder ward available for housing. (The other was flooded in 2012!) The Housing Trust are really just the fall-guys having just dutifully followed the Council.

This raises the question as to whether the planners decided on this strange choice without bothering to consult their own environmental and health officers. Surely not! But then there has always been the wider question of just why the ridiculous 'Development Plan' seemed to have been written by local land property companies.

From Anthony Rae

Friday, 11 January 2019

Michael writes: "This raises the question as to whether the planners decided on this strange choice without bothering to consult their own environmental and health officers."

In the Local Plan document assessing site 1503 the Environmental Health comments note that the land below the proposed construction is in the Hebden Bridge Air Quality Management Areas, and then concludes "There is no significant detrimental effect that cannot be mitigated against". 

And please note this sentence from my forum posting of 24th October: "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 Air Quality Management Areas’s exceedances)."

From Michael Prior

Saturday, 12 January 2019

I accept that these bland words are in the initial planning document alongside all the other bland words used to justify leaving Hebden half-derelict in the interests of property companies.

But this does not answer the question as to whether these words were signed off by the same environmental officers who made such a stinging response in recommending rejection of the planning proposal.

It is a legal requirement to make such consultation for a planning request. Development plans can be written in a la-la land where appropriate measures to limit air pollution can be invented.

And, gulp, yes, I also accept that there are parts of Hebden where illegal air pollution is even worse than the High street. So what?

From Kez Armitage

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Mr Rae's comments raise more questions than they answer.

Why, at this eleventh hour, have Environmental Health recommended refusal of this development, despite their earlier assertion that "there's no significant detrimental effect that cannot be mitigated against"?

The site itself may not be "most affected", but what about the existing houses on Bridge Lanes? Environmental Health's submission is quite clear:

"Environmental Health believes that the proposed development would have several impacts in terms of air quality. It would build up the northern embankment and further restrict dispersion of traffic related emissions, effectively making the likelihood of meeting the annual mean objective for nitrogen dioxide more remote and potentially threatening the hourly mean objective."

Certainly, as the submission suggests, the residents of the new development may lessen their risk by keeping their windows closed but is that really acceptable for modern living? And what about people walking down Bridge Lanes? I had the misfortune to do just that a few weeks ago during the morning rush hour. You could taste the pollution. And there were children walking up the road towards Mytholm School as they do every day of the school term. It's bad now; the develoment may make things worse. As Environmental Health says, "..people using any outdoor areas in the development would be exposed to potentially high levels of pollution, particularly if the dispersion is poor." 

They also state: "The applicant has not provided any information about the impact of the development on air quality, and no additional monitoring appears to have been carried out."

I can understand this, because to do so would probably need some Hollywood-style set to recreate the sides of the proposed buildings. The developers do seem to be adopting a very casual approach to people's health.

On occasion, Planning Committees overturn the recommendations of their own officers. Sometimes the advantages of development outweigh the policies in the UDP (especially regarding matters of, say, green belt, views etc). However this is different. It's to do with people's health, and potentially further exacerbating an already unacceptable situation in Bridge Lanes. How many future bronchial problems  or even deaths are acceptable collateral damage if the development were to go ahead?  Would you be happy to approve such an application? Perhaps I'm being over dramatic, but all I can say is any development that has the potential to make an already unacceptable situation worse should almost, out of hand, be refused.

From Tim M

Saturday, 12 January 2019

This is still the only plan on the table which even begins to tackle our area's housing crisis. The objectors may have some valid points, but ultimately the issues are things that can be mitigated against - and what other sites in the town don't also have issues? And this site has many things in its favour - previously developed land, on a frequent bus route, walking distance to town centre. Calder Valley Land Trust have gone out of their way to create a scheme that answers any criticism, and I note from the planning portal the very large number of comments in favour. I for one hope that permission is forthcoming.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 14 January 2019

I wonder how much support there would be for this proposal if it came from a conventional developer? If, say, Persimmon came along and told the residents of Bridge Lanes: ‘We know you’re living on one of the most polluted stretches of road in Hebden Bridge and we’re going to turn it into even more of a canyon, but don’t worry, you’ll be fine.’ My guess is the antipathy would be pretty unanimous, and justifiably so.

Opposition from Environmental Health is not something that can be brushed aside as a minor technicality, particularly in view of the recent decision to reopen the inquest into the pollution-attributed death of nine-year old Ella Kissi-Debrah. (See Guardian article) That has all the makings of a precedent that local authorities won’t want to be caught on the wrong side of if they can possibly help it.

The big enemy of this project though is likely to be cost. You don’t have to be an expert in anything to recognise that the groundwork costs will be very significant indeed before house-building can even begin. The land may be a free gift from the council but its market value is probably not high anyway, and quite possibly a lot less than the groundwork cost. 

I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest that the groundwork challenge may make it extremely difficult to build good quality homes for rent effectively capped at 80 per cent of local market rents. And that’s assuming nothing goes wrong. I remember work on the Spring Grove flats being held up for many weeks when the builders discovered - by falling into it - a large Victorian culvert that wasn’t on their plans. I’m told that along with the lost time went the developer’s profit. 

I also know of two hillside building projects where the budget was so consumed by groundwork that the houses never got built. I therefore hope the spending plans and finances of the CVCLT are very credible and robust.


HebWeb Forum: Calder Valley Land Trust has questions to answer re: High Street development (October-November 2018)