If asked which area of council is most contentious, I’d have to say that planning is pretty high up there. Understandably so, given that most of us care passionately about our homes, immediate and wider neighbourhoods and infrastructure - and their impact on our daily lives.
Calderdale Council is currently developing its Local Plan which will guide the scale and distribution of development in Calderdale until 2029.
Under the Localism Act 2011, individual smaller communities within boroughs can determine how their own particular areas will be developed, in line with this overall Local Plan. These plans are called Neighbourhood Development Plans.
At April this year around 1,000 communities nationally had taken the first formal steps towards producing such a plan. In Calderdale we have three formally in process so far, with the latest being in the non-parished Park ward area of Halifax.In areas where there is a Parish or Town Council, they are recognised as qualified to lead plans for the area they cover. In non-parished areas such as ours, an existing community group or a newly formed neighbourhood forum can apply to become a qualifying body to define an area, and prepare a plan.
It’s human nature to be far more motivated to focus on individual planning issues that have a direct impact on us than on the wider picture. However, without a Neighbourhood Plan, individual planning decisions are taken with the wider Local Plan as the key guiding factor. The local voice is less strong because there is less guidance on how development should be broken down across that smaller specific area, according to local opinion.
That’s why one of my New Year’s resolutions is to help facilitate a Neighbourhood Plan for Rastrick alongside Nick Midgley, a local resident and planning professional who’s been committed a while to making this happen. Nick said: “We ideally need a good cross section of professionals, business owners and passionate individuals to form a Neighbourhood Forum to drive this forward. Positive engagement by individuals channelled through this forum will then enable the professional planners to take heed and really include local feeling and knowledge about a community and how new development can be sensitively integrated and shaped in a sustainable way.”
If you’re interested in being involved in this group to help bring a Neighbourhood Plan for Rastrick together, please contact me on 01484 719250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Similarly, if you’re a Brighouse or Hipperholme and Lightcliffe ward resident and would like to signal an interest for your area, please contact Howard Blagbrough on 01484 714093 / email@example.com, or David Kirton on 01484 722501 / firstname.lastname@example.org respectively.
By Councillor Christine Beal (Rastrick, Con)