Labour Council administration need to go back to the drawing board on the Local Plan

Please see a brief statement below by Cllr Scott Benton, Leader of the Conservative Group on Calderdale Council. This sets out the position of the Conservative Councillors on the Local Development Plan and the steps which Calderdale Council now need to take to address the concerns of local residents.


Now that the consultation period on the Local Development Plan (which will deliver 16000 new houses across Calderdale) has drawn to a close, the Council have several months to evaluate the 10 000 different comments which have been made before producing a final Plan which will be voted upon by all 51 Calderdale Councillors in December. 

The Conservative Group have made it clear that we have serious concerns about the draft Plan and cannot support the document as it stands. We are looking for significant changes to be made to the Plan over the next few months which address our primary concerns: a) the lack of a coherent and compelling plan for infrastructure to accommodate the 16 000 new properties the Council want to build; b) the disproportionate focus the Plan has upon several communities in the east of Calderdale who are receiving an unfair share of development; c) the scale of development on Green Belt land (particularly in eastern Calderdale); and d) the lack of meaningful cooperation with Kirklees to ensure that cross-boundary issues are considered.

The draft Plan as it currently stands is neither deliverable nor based on sound evidence and cannot therefore be effective; as such, it is unsound and must be fundamentally reconsidered. It has taken the Labour administration running the Council 7 years and over £10 million in public funds to produce this Plan and so the challenge it now faces in making meaningful changes to the Plan in a short time is significant. Although they are now seeking to wash their hands of the process by distancing themselves from their own Plan, it is clear from the minutes of closed meetings that the Labour administration has been very active indeed in working with planning officers to put this plan together. It must now rise to the challenge of addressing the concerns of the public to ensure that a locally agreed Plan can be achieved. If it thinks that the Government are going to step-in and produce a plan for the Council they are sadly mistaken. Although that may be a politically convenient solution for the Labour Party it displays an appalling lack of leadership and duty and a scant disregard for the people of this Borough.

If the Labour Party do not want to produce a sound Plan that local residents can support my advice to them is to step aside and to let the Conservatives take over. We will provide the leadership needed to work towards producing a Plan which is fair to all communities and which residents can support. We will strive to deliver a balanced approach to distributing housing across the Borough and to address the concerns that residents have with regards to the lack of infrastructure within the Plan and the amount of Green Belt land which is destroyed. This is the most important issue facing the Borough in a generation –the Labour administration need to step up to mark, listen to the people of Calderdale and produce a Plan which is fit for purpose.

Cllr Scott Benton, Leader of the Conservative Group on Calderdale Council

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