Calderdale community groups help demystify large-scale consultation
As Calderdale’s long-standing and controversial local plan continues slow progress toward an outcome, community groups support public engagement in complex process.
We’ve written before about the contentious issues around Calderdale’s local plan ambitions. Calderdale’s is undoubtedly a challenging plan and one that CPRE West Yorkshire has engaged with for several years.
At CPRE West Yorkshire, we see the value in community groups working together to share the workload amongst willing and capable volunteers. It enables a more coherent response to be submitted – always useful when local perspectives and insight can support a valid submission and respond to unjustified proposals. CPRE West Yorkshire has been instrumental in bringing the various Calderdale groups and passionate individuals together. We are proud of the quality and high work standards they present consistently to the council and the Planning Inspector.
The topography in Calderdale is particularly challenging, with steep-sided valleys and protected moorland restricting some areas of development. Still, this is a contentious plan. The focus is on large-scale growth, swallowing South East Calderdale’s green belt. The evidence is clear that the ambitious development aspirations drive the greenbelt land grab far above the evidenced housing need. We also have significant concerns with Calderdale’s rural exceptions proposals, and we will return to this shortly in another article.
The main modifications required to enable the plan to be capable of being found sound and legally compliant are currently under consultation. The Planning Inspector will review the main modifications at the consultation close to determine if the proposed changes might be capable of making this plan sound and legally compliant; alongside the main modification consultation, Calderdale is also running a minor modifications consultation (spelling mistakes and non-essential issues that the Inspector will be not concerned with); these Minor modifications are for the council only and not be subject to the Inspector’s review.
The total page count for both consultations is now apparently over 1,200 pages – certainly (in recent times) one of the more extensive main modification consultations to our knowledge! The scale and complexity of this consultation mean it’s a real challenge for anyone outside the professional planning world to understand and make sense of – and our community groups are riding to the rescue again!
The community groups have pulled together to provide an excellent guide to responding to the main modifications – kindly hosted by the Clifton village website. The guide covers some of the key questions raised by the Inspector, but it cannot cover every issue and piece of land.
At CPRE West Yorkshire, we’re working on a small project to help explain how to respond to local plan consultations, but in the meantime, we’d like to say the community groups’ output is a textbook example of how to respond – be factual, you know more about your area than the Inspector so use your local knowledge and forget petitions, stock letter/responses – and be concise!
We echo their disclaimer, this is a large consultation – whilst the information might be suitable to help non-professional participants respond, it should not be relied upon for anything other than general use.
You can read the main findings here https://www.cliftonvillage.org.uk/mm/