Public meeting next Monday: Putting the vision back into public and council housing
We are rapidly approaching the fifth and final public meeting we have been organising on the theme Housing – It’s an Issue!
The meeting is next Monday 29th at 7.30pm in the Waterfront Hall of Hebden Bridge Town Hall, when our topic is Putting the Vision back into Public and Council Housing.
We think this is a key topic, and we have three national speakers coming to the Calder Valley to share their thoughts.
John Boughton will be able to remind us of the high hopes which once accompanied the idea of publicly-provided housing. His book on the history of council housing, Municipal Dreams, has recently been published (copies are available at the Book Case in Hebden Bridge).
Becky Tunstall is the Joseph Rowntree Professor of Housing Policy at the University of York and her particular interests are social housing, neighbourhoods and inequality. Since 2003 she has also been a Fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC.
Eileen Short is an active campaigner for decent, sustainable council homes. She is heavily engaged in her community in her own area of east London, and is also on the executive of the Defend Council Housing campaign. (Eileen very helpfully is making the journey north at short notice; Brian Robson, who was billed to speak, has moved to a new job with a government agency which has meant that he is unable now to speak except in an official capacity).
We do hope to see you there next Monday.
Our Hebden Bridge proposal is now deep in the planning system
As you probably know, our planning application for twenty affordable homes on the site of the old High Street housing in Hebden Bridge is now under consideration by Calderdale’s planners. We expect a decision next month.
Almost always planning applications attract far more objections than comments in support, so we are pleased (and grateful) that over fifty people have taken the trouble to register a formal ‘support’ comment on the planning portal. But of course it’s disappointing that we haven’t persuaded everyone to support our plan, and there are currently slightly more objectors than supporters registered.
If you want to support us, or for that matter if you want to oppose us, but haven’t done so yet, here is a direct link to the relevant webpage. https://portal.calderdale.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=neighbourComments&keyVal=PCGOUHDWIOK00
HebWeb also debates our proposals
Hebden Bridge’s community website (hebdenbridge.co.uk) has also seen comments for and against what we are planning. Here’s the text of our recent response to the Forum discussions:
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 St of course was once densely packed terraces of houses. Affordable rental housing (the govt defines this at <80% of market rents, although we are hoping to be well below this level) is easier to achieve if the development land value can be taken out of the equation, as it is for High St which has been gifted to the CLT, but this was not the primary reason for progressing the High St 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.
An update on the Hebden Bridge signal box
As you may know from previous CLT newsletters, the CLT has started working with the Friends of Hebden Bridge Station, to see if a long-term solution can be achieved for this heritage (Grade II listed) building through community ownership.
The signal box has now been decommissioned by Network Rail, and there is a risk that it could be simply boarded up. The CLT is in principle (and subject to detailed discussions with Network Rail) prepared to be the legal custodian of the building, and we have identified some possible sources of grant-funding to help.
The CLT and Friends have been jointly giving leaflets at the station in recent days. As a result a number of people have identified themselves as potentially interested in the project and perhaps in creating a Friends of the Signal Box group. We are currently awaiting a further response from Network Rail, and will let you know if/how things progress. Network Rail does not move quickly…
Our new website
As you are probably reading this on our new website, this may not strictly speaking be news to you….but as we mentioned in a short update to CLT members recently our new website is now live. However, we managed to make a typo in the embedded hyperlink we gave out. So this gives us a chance to mention it again, and this time hopefully get it right. The new website is at www.caldervalleyclt.org.uk.