On August 25, 2023, Deputy High Court Judge Karen Ridge granted permission to the Clifton Neighbourhood Forum’s request to challenge Calderdale Council’s Local Plan. This decision came after Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities both argued that the request should be denied.
The Forum’s request focused on three main issues, the first of which was that there are significant errors in the Calderdale Strategic Transport Model (CTSM).
The model is crucial to the Local Plan as it underpins the Council’s entire assessment of the impacts of, and therefore mitigations needed, for the development allocations it proposes. Its inaccuracies mean it substantially underestimates levels of existing and future traffic and is simply not robust.
The Judge ordered that the claim has permission to proceed to a full hearing because it is arguable that the Inspector’s Report does not adequately grapple with critical concerns around the CSTM.
A spokesperson for the Forum stated, “From the beginning, we believed that Calderdale ignored essential transport evidence. We participated in the process, brought in independent transport experts, and presented evidence explaining that despite what the flawed CSTM suggested, the reality of the transport and traffic situation is that the Calderdale highway and transport network cannot cope with the Local Plan proposals.”
One piece of evidence presented during the Local Plan Examination Hearings, which is entirely consistent with the Forum’s case, was a report from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), which deemed a new £629,000 transport model necessary for Calderdale because the current CSTM “would not stand up to scrutiny in a public inquiry.”
The spokesperson thanked everyone in Calderdale who supported the legal action, highlighting the contributions of volunteers and donations, emphasising the importance of every contribution from across the Borough.
Before the court decision, Calderdale Council launched consultations on Masterplans and Supplementary policy documents for major allocations despite the pending High Court application. Now the Court has overruled the Council’s arguments against the Forum’s application and agreed there should be a full Hearing, the Forum urges Calderdale to suspend ongoing consultations until the High Court passes judgment. This is seen as a responsible move to avoid additional spending on projects that may be unproductive and a waste of public funds during these financially challenging times.
People wishing to donate towards the legal action can find out more at cliftonforum.org.uk/legal-action