Letter: Let’s hope major projects are worth the effort

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I have been at two important meetings this week for our area. The first on Wednesday night at Mytholmroyd Community Centre was a well attended public meeting on the Local Plan.

As the council’s representative on Royd Regeneration I spoke about a month ago on the impact the last large amount of house building made on our community. Increased traffic has made journey times longer and together with imposed speed restrictions it now takes half an hour longer to get to the motorway. The constant hold ups and road works on our main Burnley Road make commuting increasingly frustrating for workers.

Air pollution in our valley was a big concern for residents and so I asked officers in planning if there is a document in the Local Plan measuring pollution. Consultants were brought in to do this work and it can be accessed through the main CMBC website, Local Plan. As far as I know work on this had not been done since 2014 for the environment and public health scrutiny review, so this is to be welcomed. Any new large development should be viewed especially with this in mind.

The Upper Valley is lucky compared to Brighouse as we are not earmarked for excessive building. Work on the Local Plan has been ongoing for some time and initially we were allocated 90 houses for Mytholmroyd and 90 for Ludddenden Foot, but this has now gone up to over 300.

The topography of the valley favours small pockets, ie one,two or three houses that fit into the landscape but small pockets of land are not included on the map, but are listed in the main schedules available for viewing in libraries.

The important thing to remember when viewing and commenting on sites on the plan is that once it is accepted it is more likely that it will get planning permission. You should make your comments to the council before September 29.

The second meeting on Friday afternoon was with the Environment Agency and contractors. We met in their office above Grange Dene Dental to air our concerns before going on a walk around Mytholmroyd to see their proposals. Peter Toms, the senior project manager for the EA, explained that the first schemes are going into planning this week after approval of spending from the Flood Partnership Board.

After securing millions for these works from Government I am particularly interested that we get value for money from these projects. Mark Tupman, the EA’s senior advisor for CMBC, assured me that he holds Peter to account to deliver these schemes and give value for money. There is very rigorous checking at every stage and scrutiny with council officers on board with financial approval necessary as well for the asset recovery programme.

Some members of the public feel that work is making slow progress, but Donald Murray, senior project manager for VBA Design, the chosen contractor, explained that 136 schemes have been under way as part of flood recovery works. I said that I would like to see transparency regarding costings so the public can see where the money is going. We were told the Pinhill scheme at Midgley cost £350,000 so I asked for a list of schemes and costs to be posted in the EA office on the car park at Mytholmroyd Community Centre.

Residents’ patience is being tried with the constant traffic hold ups in the middle of Mytholmroyd, but there is no way round this at present. Peter said they are going as quickly as possible but I would rather they take a bit longer and get the scheme right for residents. Changes have been made along the way as extra information has been provided.

The UCVR Flood Group also met with the EA last week to allay any fears they had about the schemes and give input. A suggestion was made to open another arch on County Bridge, but this would involve cutting off traffic to Cragg Vale, so as businesses have already suffered this has been rejected by the EA in favour of widening the river alongside the Church. There have been surface water works done along Burnley Road. and 75 per cent of Midgley Clough has been surveyed.

Residents are concerned that works can affect others downstream but the modelling company has made assurances that works in Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Luddenden Foot are now joined up. Lots of trees are coming out which is upsetting locals, but I am told that two will be planted for every tree taken out. I would like to see this as an opportunity to plant more varieties with colour and interesting foliage to brighten our landscape. Peter said it could take four years to get this enormous project sorted satisfactorily so let’s hope it will be worth it after all the work and effort being put in.

It has certainly taken a lot of my time this last 18 months.