Can the ghost houses of Hebden Bridge be brought back to life?
Sunday, 7 February 2016
More than 50 years on, can one of Hebden Bridge's once most important areas of housing be brought back to life? That's the question which Calder Valley Community Land Trust (CLT) will be asking the town on Saturday 27th February, at a public meeting and consultation being held at the Town Hall's Waterfront Hall at 11am.
The meeting concerns the street north of Bridge Lanes which was known as High Street. This area of the town was once crowded with early nineteenth century terraced houses all of which were swept away in the slum clearances of the 1960s. Since then, High Street and the land around it has been left vacant, with only a small tarmacked lane to show where houses once stood.
The Community Land Trust (CLT), a community benefit society with charitable status, was brought into being a year ago through the joint efforts of Hebden Bridge Partnership and Todmorden Pride. It is a community-led initiative to hold land and property in perpetuity on behalf of the community and to ensure that new housing in the upper Calder valley is designed as much as possible to meet local need for affordable housing.
The meeting on 27th February will begin a process of public consultation to discuss whether this site may be appropriate for new affordable housing and if so on what basis. Part of the morning will be a practical session led by architects Bauman Lyons (the architects of Hebden Bridge Town Hall).
Andrew Bibby, secretary of Calder Valley CLT says, "Calderdale's housing strategy suggests that Hebden Bridge will need to accommodate more than three hundred new homes by 2030. Our view in the Community Land Trust is that to avoid incursion into undeveloped greenfield sites we need to explore where sites which formerly had housing can be utilised. The High Street site is one of the obvious areas for consideration. It's also above the area where the Calder floods."
The CLT last year was awarded a small grant to undertake pre-feasibility work on this site, and the February meeting will provide an opportunity for the CLT trustees to report back on how the money was spent – and what has been found out. The Trust has also produced a booklet showing photographs of High Street as it was in its prime. Copies of the booklet will be available free at the open meeting.
The High Street proposal is one of two initiatives being progressed at the moment by the CLT, the other being a proposal for a small number of bungalows for older local people in Walsden. The Fielden Centre, the Todmorden community centre, has become the first local community asset to be passed across into the custodianship of the Calder Valley Community Land Trust.
High Street Booklet (PDF)