The next steps for an ambitious community-led plan to enhance the Sowerby area will be discussed at Calderdale Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 4 October.
Sowerby residents could be invited to vote on the Sowerby Neighbourhood Development Plan if it progresses to the referendum stage.
The Sowerby Neighbourhood Forum created the plan to set out planning policies for future development in the area, shaped by people in the community who know and love Sowerby.
A mainly rural area, Sowerby is one of the original 12 hilltop townships that were later formed into the Calderdale Metropolitan Area.
Taking on board the issues raised by local people during a thorough engagement process, the Neighbourhood Development Plan aims to ensure appropriate sustainable development that meets the community’s needs, including:
- Reducing traffic and congestion and improving parking provision.
- Securing community facilities, green space, play areas and recreational spaces.
- Preserving the heritage and character of the current village and housing estates.
- Ensuring all new developments meet a high level of sustainable design and construction, increasing energy efficiency and aiming for zero carbon emissions.
- Improving the local shopping area.
- Protecting and enhancing the natural environment; for example, by producing safe habitats through new trees, shrubs, wetlands and ponds.
- Creating and enhancing services and facilities for young people and older people.
- Improving walking and cycling facilities to encourage people to be active and to help tackle the climate emergency.
Cllr Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategy, said:
“It’s fantastic to see the hard work that the Sowerby community has put into creating its Neighbourhood Development Plan. It’s important that local people help to shape development in their area, and there is a great amount of passion to enhance Sowerby’s beauty and distinctiveness.
“This is a landmark moment in Calderdale as it’s the first Neighbourhood
Development Plan to go to a referendum, showing real progress on community-led development.”
Samantha Roberts, Chair of the Sowerby Neighbourhood Forum, said:
“The residents of Sowerby wanted to make sure that as development occurs within our area, we had a say in what happened and we wanted to make sure that we maintained our heritage and the character of our township.
“The Neighbourhood Plan allowed us to show what was important to us and to preserve the best of it and to influence future development to suit the needs of our community. The Neighbourhood Plan is a very positive piece of work showing what we want and how to make the area better rather than a negative ‘we don’t want this’. We would encourage others to see the plans in this light, of helping communities achieve goals rather than stopping development occurring.”
An independent Examiner assessed the Neighbourhood Development Plan and, with some recommendations for modification, concluded that it should go to the public polls. The Examiner praised the good level of community consultation.
The Council’s Cabinet Members are now being asked to consider the Examiner’s recommendations and decide what action to take in response to each one. If they are agreed, the plan will be amended and the referendum process will begin, and Sowerby residents will be able to vote on whether to accept the plan.
If over 50% of people vote ‘yes’, Cabinet Members will be asked, at a future meeting, to formally give the go ahead for the plan to become part of the Council’s planning process, to be used when deciding whether new developments should be approved. This is part of the powers granted to community groups in the Localism Act 2011.
The Cabinet meeting on Monday 4 October will take place at Halifax Town Hall from 6pm and will be live streamed at https://calderdale.public-i.tv/core/portal/home(external link)