Tories urge public to have their say on final draft of Calderdale Council’s Local Plan

Calderdale's Conservatives with protesters against the Local Plan at the meeting in June, and counter-demonstrators behind them
Calderdale's Conservatives with protesters against the Local Plan at the meeting in June, and counter-demonstrators behind them

It is likely to be your last chance to have a say, so take part in the Local Plan’s six-week final consultation, residents are being urged by Calderdale’s Conservatives, who remain opposed to it.

The final draft of Calderdale Council’s Local Plan – which will shape where new homes can be built and businesses developed in the borough over the next 15 years – goes online today, August 10, with the final deadline for representations of 5pm on Monday, September 24.

The draft plan has caused controversy, particularly in south east Calderdale and especially over planned Garden Suburbs in Brighouse which will provide space for more than 3,000 of the 9,500 new homes the council is expected to have to find space for in that time.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for Planning, Housing and Environment, Coun Daniel Sutherland (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) has commended the plan for homes and businesses as being ambitious, identifying areas for economic growth while protecting the green belt – but Conservative group leader Coun Scott Benton (Brighouse) said his party’s “fundamental” concerns about it remained.

The group would be highlighting “flaws” within the plan to the Planning Inspectorate, he said.

Conservatives remain in opposition to the plan, which was approved by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors at an Extraordinary Council meeting in June.

Coun Benton said lack of detailed plans for infrastructure to allow thousands of new homes to be built remained a major concern and his councillors remained unconvinced that co-operation with neighbouring councils had been properly carried out.

In the six-week consultation period, people have the opportunity to comment on three specific questions – whether the plan is compliant with current legislation, whether it is “sound” and whether it complies with the Duty to Co-operate, said Coun Benton.

“Our view that the plan is unsound and unfit for purpose on account of its inherent flaws such as the questionable nature of the way the council has discharged its ‘duty to co-operate’ with neighbouring councils.

“We voted against the plan when it came before council and will be presenting a robust case to the Planning Inspectorate to highlight the flaws within the plan.

“We continue to support an alternative vision for the plan which is fair to all of the communities in the borough and which includes fully worked up plans for the roads and public services which we need to manage new development,” said Coun Benton.

Calder Valley Conservative MP Craig Whittaker said he backed Coun Benton and urged people to take part in the consultation.

“Whilst we need new housing in all of our communities across the valley, developments have to be proportional to each area and must include the improvements to roads, schools, health facilities and local services which people rightfully expect.

“The current plan doesn’t meet this basic requirement or indeed the different challenges of our communities. It requires radical improvement. I would strongly encourage residents to have their say before the consultation closes in late September,” he said.

The publication of the draft Local Plan on Calderdale Council’s website – www.calderdale.gov.uk/localplan – triggers the six week consultation period. Full instructions and guidance on how to make a representation are included on the website.

Three “drop-in” sessions where people can discuss the plan with planning officers are being arranged as follows, with each session running from 4pm to 7pm.

On Thursday, August 23, the team will be at Hebden Bridge Library in Cheetham Street; on Monday, September 3, they will be at Brighouse Library in Halifax Road; and on Thursday, September 6, they will be at Halifax Library in Square Road.

Those wishing to see a copy of the plan can do so at any time during the consultation period at Calderdale Libraries.

Officers will be also available to see from 9am to 1pm at Halifax Customer First in Horton Street every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The representation period will close at 5pm on Monday, September 24.

The council will not be able to amend the draft Local Plan after reviewing the representations made, but they will be included with the draft Local Plan when it is submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for Examination by an independent Planning Inspector.

Calderdale is following a timetable for publication which was agreed with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which will see the draft Local Plan, including the representations from the public, submitted in December 2018.

The Local Plan will then be examined in detail by an independent Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State with the examination lasting around nine months.

Adoption of the plan by the council, following receipt of the Inspector’s Report, is expected to be confirmed by the end of 2019.