Conservative councillors have pledged to continue the fight over Calderdale’s Local Plan following the draft document being approved at an Extraordinary Council meeting last week.
Councillors voted by 28 votes to 18 to approve the plan with Labour, Liberal and Independent councillors voting in favour of the plan and all Conservatives voting against.
The Local Plan will now be subject to a statutory consultation before being passed onto the planning inspectors for public examination.
Conservative group leader on Calderdale Council, Councillor Scott Benton (Brighouse) said the fight against it, and particularly its effect on south east areas of Calderdale including Brighouse, Rastrick and Hipperholme and Lightcliffe, would go on, with support from Calder Valley Conservative MP Craig Whittaker.
“We were bitterly disappointed that the draft plan was approved last week but it remains our firm view that the Local Plan is unsound and unfit for purpose.
“There are significant weaknesses in the evidence base behind the plan and we feel that these render many aspects of the plan as unsound.
“There is a good chance that the planning inspectors will raise questions about various parts of the plan despite the fact that other parties have nodded it through without considering the weight of evidence against it.
“We will support residents and local planning groups as they continue to make a strong case against the plan,” said Coun Benton.
At the meeting, held at Halifax Town Hall, Calderdale’s Conservatives Conservative councillors voiced opposition to the plan citing reservations about infrastructure planning, a disproportionate amount of homes marked for South East Calderdale in Brighouse, Rastrick and Hipperholme, the effect of static traffic on air quality in those areas and questioned whether public responses had been properly evaluated. Conversely, other parts of Calderdale would not benefit from invstment new homes would bring. They urged the Local Plan be rejected.
Labour, supported by the Liberal Democrats, accused the Conservatives of misleading people about numbers in the recent election campaign, producing no plan of their own, ignoring work done by officers in a series of detailed reports and millions of pounds of investment secured, and not taking Calderdale’s unique geography and topography into account and successfully argued for its adoption. Independent Councillor Colin Raistrick (Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said if the plan had been rejected it was likely Government would have taken control of it and local knowledge and ability to shape its detail would be lost.
And after the meeting, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet member for Planning, Housing and Environment, Coun Dan Sutherland (Labour, Illingworth and Mixenden) said the Local Plan would help deliver the council’s vision for Calderdale.
“Over the next 15 years we must ensure everyone has the chance to live in a decent home, that there are opportunities for our entrepreneurial spirit to thrive and that there is access to good, high quality employment so that we can retain our skilled and talented workforce within the borough.
“As important is our need to protect our heritage and our landscapes, and I am delighted that the Local Plan will allow us to protect over 99 per cent of Calderdale’s green belt and surrounding countryside from development,” he said.
But Calder Valley Conservative MP Mr Whittaker said his party colleagues were right to be concerned about the plan and had raised these issues with Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire.
“We need new housing in Calderdale and the Council need to agree upon a Local Plan which is deliverable and fit for purpose.
“However, this plan has to be right for the communities of the Calder Valley and needs to include the correct number of houses in the appropriate areas, with detailed plans for the new roads and services which we need to facilitate the new development.
“This plan fails to meet this criteria. I will continue to speak with James Brokenshire about the concerns that many local residents have in relation to Calderdale’s Local Plan and I know that he is taking a close interest in how the Plan progresses through the next stages,” he said.
The draft Local Plan will be published on the council website at 9am on Friday, August 10, and be available to view at Calderdale libraries and Customer First. The representation period closes at 5pm on Monday, September 24.
Although the council will not be able to amend the draft Local Plan after reviewing representations made by the public, they will be included with the draft Local Plan when it is submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The agreed timetable with the Ministry will see the draft Local Plan submitted in December 2018. It will be examined in detail by an independent Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State.
Adoption of the plan by Calderdale, following receipt of the Inspector’s Report, is expected to be confirmed by the end of 2019.