Tuesday 11 January brings the final hearing into the Calderdale Local Plan before the Inspector provides her view on whether or not the Plan is capable of being found sound and legally compliant.
It marks the culmination of a great deal of work undertaken by professionals and amateurs alike. All of them have provided robust evidence as to the issues with the Plan.
The Clifton Village Neighbourhood Forum has participated in the local plan consultation process since 2015. The Forum is not anti-development, but the independent professional evidence that was not contested by Calderdale until very recently shows that the current traffic situation is under-estimated.
Evidence presented by your Forum demonstrated that the Council (and their developers) used inaccurate, outdated data to justify large-scale developments in South-East Calderdale. We’ve mentioned previously how the West Yorkshire Combined Authority had awarded Calderdale over £600,000 in 2018 to develop a new ‘multi-modal’ transport model.
After the hearing, we can look forward to the Inspector providing a ruling on the soundness and legal compliance of the Plan quickly. Tuesday’s hearing is only taking place because, yet again, Calderdale submitted late evidence.
Late submission of evidence has been a reoccurring theme of this examination. The original 430-page Plan was submitted to the government on 19 January 2019. Still, answers to the Inspector’s questions and subsequent evidence submitted (which the Forum has commented on) now total over 4,230 pages.
What are the options for the Inspector?
The Inspector has several options
● Agree that the Plan is sound and legally compliant
● Find the Plan to be unsound and not legally compliant
● Find that the Plan is capable of being sound and legally compliant subject to main modifications, which she would need to recommend the Council make, possibly including the removal of some allocations.
If the Plan is found not sound, Calderdale will have to go back to the drawing board and start again. This has happened with other local plans, although it is infrequent (though the situation in Calderdale is hardly ‘normal’). Any other options will mean more consultations and discussions because the Council already has an extensive list of ‘main modifications’ that will need to be consulted upon. We’ll discuss the main modifications in more detail in another article, but these fundamental modifications identified by the Inspector result from the evidence provided by participants (including your Forum).
Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, it’s safe to say this Local Plan journey is not over yet!
Your Forum continues to work on the neighbourhood plan for Clifton Village. Once we know the outcome of the local plan hearings, we will call a meeting. In the meantime, our focus is on completing the neighbourhood plan and submitting it to Calderdale.