Open letter to Craig Whittaker MP on local plan

Dear Craig Whittaker MP,

In recent meetings between party political leaders on Calderdale Council the Deputy Leader of the Conservative group Councillor Baines stated to me that the Conservative group is opposed to the local plan currently out for consultation, and that they would prefer it if the Government stepped in to do the local plan for us.

The Government has also restated its intention to step in and produce plans for Councils that do not produce one in its recent housing white paper. In addition the Secretary of State for Local Government Sajid Javid MP addressed the Local Government Association conference recently, criticising Council’s that had not agreed local plans.

Calderdale Council is in no overall control and the Conservative group’s stated opposition to the local plan decreases the likelihood of us agreeing a local plan at full Council in December. If the Council doesn’t agree a local plan, then at some stage the Government would step in and produce one for us.

I’m aware you have recently arranged a series of public meetings across the Borough where your opposition to building on Greenbelt land has been stated. With that in mind can I ask: ‘Have you been able to get an assurance from the Secretary of State that if the Government were to produce our plan, it would contain no house building on land currently classified as Greenbelt? Can I also enquire, if the Government were to produce a plan for us, how many houses would they make provision for in the local plan’?

Yours Sincerely,

Councillor James Baker

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council.

June & July planning applications for Warley Ward

Local Plan – New Map of Housing Sites Now Available

On Monday the 19th June the Labour cabinet that runs Calderdale Council agreed to put the local plan out for a six week Consultation. The local plan will provide a framework for development up until 2032. The government requires the Council to find the spaces for 1,000s of new homes. If we don’t determine where they go locally the Government will step in and do it for us (The local Conservative group  position is that they would prefer the Government to determine where the new housing sites go). This Consultation was due to launch on Monday 10th July, but has been delayed as it has been called into scrutiny. It should however launch in the next couple of weeks.

As soon as the Consultation goes live it ought to be available on the Council’s Planning Consultation Portal. Residents will then have six weeks to let their views known on the plan and any of the housing sites contained with in. You can view the map of all the sites in Calderdale here – https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/nweb/COUNCIL.minutes_pkg.view_doc?p_Type=AR&p_ID=51780

In order to make it easier to see the sites in Warley Ward I have provided a couple clippings from the land allocation map below. I’ve also provided links to the sites, so that you can read the detailed review of each of them and how they have been RAG rated.

In terms of our comments on these proposals, we are pleased to see that a number of sites around Mount Tabor and Roils Head Moor have been taken out of the plans. We ran a campaign to protect the Greenbelt in locations like these and that campaign appears to have been successful. ~However we still have concerns about some of the sites down at Fountainhead Village notably sites LP1607 and LP0983.

Also looking at the plans it appears as if the cricket pitch in Warley Town is listed. Warley Town is a conservation area and the loss of its cricket pitch for housing would be a shame. We assume the club would be able to purchase a new pitch perhaps with the receipts from the sale of this land. There is also a site at the bottom of Paddock Lane which is currently part of the Golf Club. We again make the assumption that if this land were to be used for housing then the Golf Club would have to re-arrange their course, presumably with fewer holes. What do you think of these sites?

Our approach to the local plan will be to let people know about this consultation and encourage local residents to get involved and contact us if they have any further concerns about it.

It is worth considering that if we just oppose the plan outright as the Conservatives appear to be suggesting they might then the Government would step in and do it for us. This might actually lead to even more housing sites, the sites at Tabor and Roils Head going back in, and further loss of Greenbelt. We are minded therefore to try and engage constructively with this consultation, and then decide whether or not to back the plan based on the outcome of that consultation and the extent to which the Council has listened to local residents.

 

The details on site LP0418 & LP0417 are in: https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/nweb/COUNCIL.minutes_pkg.view_doc?p_Type=AR&p_ID=51762

The details on site LP0968 are in this document – https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/nweb/COUNCIL.minutes_pkg.view_doc?p_Type=AR&p_ID=51768

 

The details on site LP0983 and LP0984 are in this document – https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/nweb/COUNCIL.minutes_pkg.view_doc?p_Type=AR&p_ID=51768

Save Sandhall Green play area

save-sandhall-green-play

When I was elected as a Councillor I requested details of all the unspent Section 106 moneys allocated to Warley ward. I identified a sum of money (I recall around £40k) that had been allocated to improving green spaces. This money was given to the Council by the developers who built over the old play area on what is now Bridleway Ct. Working with Council officers your Liberal Democrat Councillors helped to devise a scheme to improve the green as a recreation ground. Following a public consultation in 2013 the Council went ahead and built a small children’s play area, football posts, planted new trees, built a fence around the play area, created some parking spaces, and improved the planting with some new trees.

Just three years later and the Labour run Council is now proposing to build eight bungalows on the site. You can see the plans for what is proposed below. They would be placed right over the existing play area, and leave a much smaller space. Destroying the space for people to walk dogs and the football play area in the process. This decesion is going to cabinet on 14th November so we have just a couple of weeks to encourage the Labour cabinet not to build over this play area.

You can sign the petition against this scheme here

Picture that shows plans to build bungalows on Sandhall Green

Liberty claim new surveillance powers breach Human Rights

A joint Liberty, Privacy International, Open Rights Group, Article 19, Big Brother Watch, English PEN briefing on the emergency surveillance powers announced by the coalition government claims powers granted by the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) would breach Human Rights legislation.

In an email sent to parliamentarians Liberty make the following statement:

“Clause 1 of the Bill contains powers for the Government to continue to mandate blanket retention of communications data within the UK for 12 months. This is in direct contradiction of a CJEU judgment, delivered in April, which held that blanket indiscriminate retention of such private data breached human rights. The judgment laid out ten criteria for proportionate retention and access to communications data that are ignored in this Bill. The Government has known of the judgment for over three months and cannot justify the ’emergency’ it now claims.”

The question should no longer be whether Lib Dem MPs won enough concessions, but whether they are prepared to back a bill that Liberty claim is in direct contradiction to a European Court of Justice ruling on Human Rights.

You can read the briefing in full here

Briefing on the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill

West End Golf Club Proposals

West End  Golf Club has approached Calderdale Council regarding an asset transfer application to use some of the land on Roils Head.  Councillor Evans and myself attended a meeting with the club to understand what they wanted to do.

We agreed to carry out a bit of initial informal survey work with residents so we could find out what people think of these ideas. We believe it is important people have as much opportunity as possible to contribute  their thoughts and views. We have been carrying out some door to door surveying work but we also thought it useful to create and online survey that residents we have not yet managed to reach can complete.

The club have agreed to listen to this initial survey and revise their plans if necessary.  Once the club  have formalized their plans there will be further independent public consultation on these proposals.  We will also help arrange a public meeting where all residents can let their views be known. The final decision as to whether to go ahead with the plans will be made by the Cabinet of Calderdle Council. Cllr Evans and I will of course represent the views of residents to cabinet. The proposals would also likely require planning permission, and this would be a formal process in which residents would have the opportunity to engage in.

Below is a map of the proposals, and details out what the club believes to be the benefits to the community. You can take the initial residents survey on this proposal here

Roils_Head_Drawing

HALIFAX WEST END GOLF CLUB

Community Asset Transfer

Application for the use of a portion of land on Roils Head – see  map of the area and portion of land required in the Community Asset Transfer.
The land acquired will be used to create 3 new holes for Halifax West End Golf Club.
This would free up part of the present Golf Course for the creation of a Driving Range, with Teaching Bays, plus the creation of a Golfing Academy and a Mini Golf Course.
Benefits to Calderdale Council.

  • The full area of Roils Head to be maintained by the Greens staff at Halifax West End Golf Club, making a considerable financial saving for Calderdale.
  • Improvement to the environment with regular work being undertaken on the Moor to bring it back to its former state.
  • At present the Calderdale area does not have a Golf Driving Range – golfers have to travel to neighbouring districts.
  • The extension of the parking area at the club will ease the congestion problems on Paddock Lane at weekends and Golf Open Days.

Benefits for the Community.

  • Golf encourages a healthy lifestyle for people of every age.
  • Improvement of the Moor by creating designated loops for walkers and horse riders – linking these up with entrances at either side of the Moor
  • Creating a Driving Range with Teaching Bays to be used by the Golf Club and the community plus a short game course which will enable:-
  • ‘Passport to Leisure’ use to make it cheaper for Calderdale residents.
  • Local Schools to gain free coaching.
  • Short game course for beginners.
  • Reduced rates for the local community, out of work, students at school, senior citizens on the Driving Range and the Mini Golf Course.
  • Access to facilities at the Golf Club.
  • Extra parking spaces at the club will reduce, and hopefully free, any parking on Paddock Lane.
  • Quality coaching from 2 experienced and qualified Professionals.
  • Links with Calderdale Police to create opportunities with the local youth.

Benefits to Halifax West End Golf Club.

  • Creation of 3 extra holes.
  • Creation of a Driving Range with Teaching Bays for the use of both members and the general public.
  • Creation of a short game practice area for members and the general public who are starting to play the game of golf.
  • Chance to develop our already positive Youth Policy.
  • Chance to create a Golf Academy for Adult and Junior Golfers starting in the game.
  • Improved facilities will enhance excellence in golf, particularly at Junior Level.
  • About Halifax West End Golf Club

The Golf Club has at present:-

  • The E.G.U. Golf Mark, with high achiever for Junior Golf / Ladies.
  • Community Amateur Sports Clubs (C.A.S.C.) status.
  • Extensive membership categories.
  • Positive initiatives to integrate the ethnic communities.
  • Initiatives to use golf to encourage a healthy lifestyle.