High Court gives green light to Judicial Review of Calderdale Local Plan
High Court grants permission for Clifton Neighbourhood Forum’s judicial review of Calderdale’s Local Plan.
Despite Calderdale Council finally adopting their local plan in March (after more than four years of consultations and hearings), their long-running local plan saga isn’t yet over! On Friday, 25 August 2023, Deputy High Court Judge Karen Ridge granted Clifton Neighbourhood Forum’s application for permission to apply for a judicial review of Calderdale Council’s Local Plan. The claim will now proceed to a full hearing in the High Court.
As defendants to the action, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council (First Defendant) and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Second Defendant) submitted their arguments about why the application should be rejected.
Grounds for challenge
The Forum’s application contained three grounds for challenge; these included that there are significant inaccuracies in the Calderdale Strategic Transport Model. The transport model is crucial to the Local Plan as it underpins the Council’s entire assessment of the impacts of and, therefore, mitigation needed for the development allocations it proposes. Its inaccuracies mean it substantially underestimates existing and future traffic levels and is not, therefore, robust.
The Judge found that the claim is arguable because the Inspector’s Report does not adequately grapple with the principal controversial issues around this key concern and that the case should be argued at a full hearing in the High Court.
A Forum spokesperson commented, “From the start, the Forum was convinced that Calderdale ignored fundamental evidence regarding transport. The Forum participated in the process, engaging professional independent transport experts and presenting evidence explaining that despite what the flawed transport model suggested, the reality of the transport and traffic situation is that the Calderdale highway and transport network cannot cope with the Local Plan proposals.”
Part of the evidence presented to the Inspector during the Local Plan Examination Hearings, which is entirely consistent with the Forum’s case, was a report from West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which deemed a new £629,000 transport model necessary for Calderdale because the current transport model “would not stand up to scrutiny in a public inquiry.”
CPRE West Yorkshire’s involvement
CPRE West Yorkshire has been instrumental in bringing Calderdale community groups together; Robert Bamforth, CPRE West Yorkshire Trustee, explains, “CPRE worked collaboratively and successfully with numerous community groups on the Kirklees Local Plan. So we decided to do the same thing in Calderdale and, if anything, it has been even more successful. Credit is due to the community groups, everyone has been fantastic and played their part wonderfully”
Clifton Neighbourhood Forum’s Secretary Jason Carlton attributes the borough-wide community group engagement to CPRE West Yorkshire’s involvement. “Robert’s supportive and engaging influence helped community groups across the borough navigate the complex planning world and felt able to participate in the local plan examination process”.
Alongside community groups, CPRE West Yorkshire participated in the local plan process. It consistently highlighted concerns with the plan’s focus on developing South East Calderdale’s green belt and increasing car dependency.
Although led by the Forum, it’s thanks to help and support from community groups and individuals across Calderdale that the legal action has been possible, explains the Forum. “Thanks to dedicated volunteers and generous donations, we’ve been able to do this. Every single pound donated from across Calderdale counts. We are proud to be part of a broad Borough-wide community standing up for what’s right. The funding appeal now reflects the additional costs of having our day in court”
Find out more
CrowdJustice page https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/reject-calderdale-local-plan/