Road fate 
‘in hands 
of church’

Concerned residents at the Hipperholme crossroads
Concerned residents at the Hipperholme crossroads

Church members will decide the future of a £3.4 million road scheme at Hipperholme.

The leadership team of Christ Church, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, meets next week and top of the agenda will be the proposals which would involve the sale of church land to build a new road layout aimed at easing congestion at the controversial crossroads.

Without the church’s agreement to sell a key parcel of land it is understood that the scheme would collapse, taking down with it plans for 350 houses and a 100-bed care home on the site of the redundant Clugston’s quarry off Brighouse Road.

The scheme to improve traffic flow would be funded by central government money totalling £3.1 million, the bulk of which has to be allocated and used by March 2015. A further £300,000 would be put up by developer Strata Homes, to buy two strategic parcels of land – the one owned by the church and the other occupied by the currently closed Whitehall public house.

The three ward councillors are against the scheme and a questionnaire circulated around Hipperholme and Lightcliffe has so far been signed by more than 1,000 people saying ‘no’ to the plans. No votes have been recorded in favour.

Councillor Colin Raistrick (Ind) told residents at the area forum that he had written to the Department of Transport about some of the information contained with the Local Pinch Point fund application, which is funding £2.4 million of the scheme, which isn’t true.

“It would be a disaster for this village,” he said. “I am yet to meet a person in favour in the scheme.

“The only sensible decision I can see is the extra lane on Denholmegate Road which will run through the pub car park. This right hand turn will make a big difference. There is a lot of things the council can do without ripping out the heart of the village.

“Why are we spending £3.4 million making a complete mess and disrupting peoples lives then there is no gurantee it will work.”

Councillor David Kirton (Con) said around 400 viewed the proposals at Christ Church two weeks ago. “One thing which is clear about Hipperholme junction is that if this doesn’t go ahead then the housing development at Southedge Quarry won’t and I think that 99.9 per cent of people are against any alteration to that junction.

“The views of the vast majority of people that live in the area are completely opposed to the scheme and your three ward councillors will be representing your views at any future meetings we will be attending.”

Councillor Graham Hall (Con) said the proposals were a threat to the community. “The future well-being of the village, its residents and it businesses hangs on the right decision being made here. This is a massive issue.”

Hipperholme Preservation Society has contacted Christ Church seeking its support to block the scheme. Its chairman, Bob Horne, said in a letter to the leadership team that the overwhelming view was that the Hipperholme community would be seriously affected, even destroyed, by a scheme which had no benefit to residents or anyone travelling through the crossroads.

He said it was the view of the society that claims made by Calderdale Council in its bid for central government cash were at least questionable and in some cases simply untrue. “The claim that the sale in principle of church land had been agreed is patently false. No recommendation has been made either way.”

Other claims that journey times through Hipperholme would be reduced, parking spaces would be more readily available and that pedestrian access would be easier and safer did not stand up to scrutiny.

He said Calderdale Council, in its letter to the Department for Transport, had claimed there had been no opposition to the scheme and that it was in no way controversial. “This gives the DfT a totally false impression of local opinion.”

Rev Patrick Taylor confirmed that no decision had been taken over the sale of church land. “Nothing has yet been decided. Clearly it is important to the church to be aware of and take into account both the village and wider Calderdale views of the changes both short and long term,” he said