A high profile Kirklees Council housing scheme has been blasted for proposing a “ghetto” for the less well off.
Long awaited plans for council backed affordable and social homes in Huddersfield came before the Strategic Planning Committee on Thursday.
But angry councillors sent planning officers back to the drawing board amid claims they were “segregating” and “stigmatising” the families that would occupy the homes.
The 110 home estate on council land at Ashbrow will be developed by Keepmoat in partnership with the council, and will include 13 affordable homes for those less well off to rent.
The indicative lay-out showed they were all to be built together on one street while the remaining 97 more expensive properties are built elsewhere
Planning officers said the design had been agreed to allow the affordable homes to be built first to provide vital low cost housing for the community.
But councillors lashed out at the proposal and refused to support it.
“I find it quite strange and quite uncomfortable, to be honest, that we’re plonking the affordable homes in the bottom corner, stigmatising these people instead of integrating them into the site,” said Clr Paul Kane.
“If we’ve done this in collaboration with Keepmoat we should be ashamed of ourselves.
“This does nothing for social mobility.”
Clr Andrew Pinnock agreed.
He commented: “These houses are being put on one cul-de-sac, to me that makes it worse – to push people in a certain housing category into a ghetto, or a section all on their own.
“To segregate people is a thoroughly bad procedure.
“This is really unfortunate and will re-enforce stereotypes that we’re trying to break down.”
Clr Donald Firth added: “Why can’t we mix it in?
“You’re putting people in boxes – you shouldn’t be doing that.”
Chairman of the committee Clr Steve Hall declared he too was “not too keen” on the plan.
And he called out those claiming the scheme was 39% affordable housing, saying that was skewed by the 50-bed care home that will be run by Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing.
He said the real figure was about 11.8%, below the council’s normal threshold of 20%.
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The six-strong committee of councillors declined to back the plan, promoted by the ruling Labour cabinet, until the design had been changed.
Senior councillors agreed more than five years ago that the large site between the rear of Asda and Ashbrow Road could be used to boost housing numbers and get new social flats for the elderly.
They agreed to sell most of the land and use the cash to subsidise a council run ‘extra care’ facility.
Extra care housing is a key focus of the council’s social care plan as it helps older people maintain their independence and reduces social isolation.