Ground-breaking Calderdale projects in the spotlight on Mayoral visit

Calderdale’s pioneering work on climate action and regeneration was showcased in a visit to the borough by the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin.

Calderdale Council invited the Mayor to see ground-breaking Natural Flood Management and housing projects underway on Tuesday 13 February 2024.

The first visit of the day was to Ogden Water in Halifax, where Mayor Brabin joined the Council’s countryside team and local volunteers to plant sphagnum moss – a powerful species in building flood resilience and cutting carbon emissions.

Next on the schedule was a visit to the award-winning Beech Hill development in Halifax, where the Council, Together Housing and Esh Construction are building 106 new affordable homes, and where 70 existing homes are also being refurbished, in partnership with the local community.

The Ogden Water visit gave the Mayor of West Yorkshire the chance to see and take part in an inspiring example of how Calderdale’s Climate Action Plan is working towards net zero carbon emissions by 2038.

The planting session was a landmark moment for the countryside volunteers, who have been building up to this for two years after carefully growing their own homegrown sphagnum moss in the nursery at Manor Heath Park.

They have been taking part in the Calderdale sphagnum moss project since 2022, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund. The project has also received funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority this year through its Net Zero Accelerator Fund peat bog restoration project.

The volunteers have worked tirelessly to find the best ways to grow the moss, to ultimately plant it in suitable sites around Calderdale to restore damaged moorland that currently emits carbon.

The moss carpets the ground on moors and marshes and acts as a sponge. It restores degraded moorland (an important part of Natural Flood Management), soaks up carbon, holds water and stops run-off, prevents the decay of dead plant material and eventually forms peat.

Cllr Scott Patient, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Active Travel and Housing, and Cllr Sarah Courtney, Cabinet Member for Towns, Tourism and Voluntary Sector, also took part in the planting session.

After Ogden Water, the Mayor of West Yorkshire did a tour of the Beech Hill housing development site, joined by Cllr Courtney, Cllr Jenny Lynn (Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities) and other representatives from Calderdale Council, as well as George Paterson (Executive Director for Property) and Elaine Armitage (Assistant Director for Property Investment) from Together Housing and Andy Radcliffe (Chief Executive) and Simon Woodward (Operations Director) from Esh Construction.

The team showcased the 51 new affordable homes that were completed in 2023, the 70 renovated homes that are now benefiting from better insultation and drainage, and the wider regeneration that has taken place to transform this residential area just outside Halifax town centre.

Mayor Brabin also saw the construction that is set to complete in early 2024 on the remaining 55 new homes, and heard how strong partnership working and support from external funders such as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority helped to get this challenging scheme off the ground.

Cllr Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said:

“It was great to showcase our Council priorities and Vision 2024 for Calderdale in action, highlighting the level of ambition that’s palpable across the borough.

“We were proud to show Mayor Brabin how we’re tackling the climate emergency and protecting our communities from flooding through nature. Local climate action takes many forms, and the sphagnum moss project is an important part of our wider work, in partnership with other organisations and community volunteers, to restore our precious moorlands.

“The Beech Hill visit highlighted an excellent example of partnership working to deliver much-needed new affordable homes, and to make existing homes warmer, more energy-efficient and cheaper to run. The award-winning transformation is supporting thriving towns and places and reducing inequalities, and this opened up a discussion with Mayor Brabin about future opportunities.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

“I’m delighted to see the hard work going into protecting our communities and businesses from flooding, as well as building and improving homes and making them warmer and cheaper to run.

“This vital work helps us work towards building a greener, more vibrant West Yorkshire that’s fit for the future.

“As we work towards our mission of a net zero West Yorkshire by 2038, it’s vital we work together with partners like Calderdale Council to ensure that everyone feels the benefit of our green transition.”

George Paterson, Executive Director for Property at Together Housing, said:

“We are proud to have been able to showcase the fantastic progress made on the award-winning Beech Hill development to Mayor Brabin. This scheme was only made possible through the determined efforts of Together Housing and Calderdale Council with support from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Homes England to create a financial package to allow demolition of three derelict high rise blocks and remediation of an unused depot, and developer Esh have done a fantastic job to help create new homes and revitalise the community.”

Esh Construction’s Operations Director, Simon Woodward, said:

“The new build homes at Beech Hill are close to completion and have played a key part in the redevelopment of the area. Esh, as a local contractor, is delighted to have worked with local partners to deliver economic benefits and opportunities for the area, and affordable, more energy-efficient homes, for Calderdale residents.”

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