Principle of exceptional circumstances for the release of land from the Green Belt for housing and employment development
99. The Council has carried out a thorough assessment of potential capacity to accommodate housing and employment development in the borough. This work is based on evidence in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Study (2014) and Employment Land Study, and further refined by site allocation assessment work undertaken as part of plan preparation. The Council has sought to optimise site densities as part of this process whilst adjusting capacity to take account of site-specific constraints and other factors. Reasonable density multipliers seeking higher rates in town centres and accessible locations were used as a starting point, with bespoke assessments applied where feasible.
100. The assessment work shows that there is insufficient capacity within built-up areas or on suitable, deliverable and available non-Green Belt sites in the countryside in the area around Todmorden to deliver the identified housing requirement and employment land needs. As set out in Issue 1, the supply of suitable sites in the west of the borough is constrained by a number of factors, including topography, flooding and the SPA/SAC. Suitable and deliverable nonGreen Belt sites in the west of the borough were selected before options in the Green Belt.
101. The NPPF 2012 states that Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances. The Council is aiming to meet identified housing needs in line with national policy and to deliver employment needs within the borough. The Council has held discussions with other authorities about accommodating needs but many of these authorities also have Green Belt land. The Leeds City Region Statement of Common Ground confirms that authorities in the sub-region have agreed to accommodate their own identified needs. The delivery of identified housing needs within Calderdale would help to provide homes for people and facilitate the delivery of additional affordable housing. The release of Green Belt land for employment would allow the Council to deliver its employment strategy and meet employment needs by offering a range of job opportunities. Without the release of Green Belt land in Calderdale a substantial amount of new dwellings and employment floorspace would not be delivered. Furthermore, the release of Green Belt land would align with the spatial strategy in the Plan which seeks to focus development in the eastern Calderdale Council, Calderdale Local Plan Inspector’s Report 26 January 2023 28 part of the borough where there is access to jobs and services, planned investment in infrastructure and higher market demand for employment space.
102. The Council has identified that 489 hectares would be released from the Green Belt. This includes some 371 hectares of land for housing and employment allocations (including the additional housing allocations). Site-specific modifications elsewhere in this report would reduce this figure slightly. The total figure of 489 hectares equates to about 2% of the total Green Belt land area in the borough. The proposed reduction is therefore relatively small and the overall integrity of the Green Belt would remain. The Council has identified its commitment to a number of environmental, access and open space projects in the Green Belt that will enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt in line with paragraph 81 in the NPPF 2012.
103. In the absence of reasonable alternatives, and given the benefits associated with local housing and economic growth, it is concluded that exceptional circumstances exist in principle to justify the release of land from the Green Belt to deliver housing and employment needs in Calderdale