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Cars before people, cars before homes

From Anthony Rae

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Preparing for stage 2 of the public inquiry now underway into Calderdale’s draft Local Plan (wearing my Friends of the Earth ‘hat’) has involved unpacking the analysis that claims to underpin it, and that throws an illuminating light on the planning application that has now been submitted by Calderdale Council to provide a 63 space car park on the site of the former Vale Centre off Stubbing Holme Road. Specifically:

  • The Council’s local plan is based on a fundamental assumption that additional road capacity must be provided across Calderdale (the so-called ‘corridor improvement programmes’ - CIPs) which will result in more road traffic, and therefore worse air pollution and more carbon emissions. Calderdale and West Yorkshire Combined Authority are being paid to do this by the Department of Transport, which has the worst climate change record of all. Transport’s carbon emissions are still higher than they were in 1990 - instead of being halfway to net zero - but nonetheless they intend to press ahead with roads and airports expansion. Why has Calderdale Council  chosen to work with the DfT in this way, and why it has repeatedly failed to disclose what will be the consequences of the CIPs for road traffic levels and resultant increased pollution in local communities?
  • In fact what the CIP means for Hebden Bridge is that road traffic on the A646 alongside Mayroyd will increase by 14% if the CIP measures were to be implemented, and in the centre of Hebden Bridge by 7%. In both locations vehicle speeds will increase, and with it road danger. The planning application untruthfully states that removing the parking alongside Mayroyd is required because it’s ‘preventing buses and HGVs from passing side by side and results in delays and congestion’, whereas the real reason is that this will allow traffic volumes  and speeds to increase. Equally fallacious is the rationale consequently claimed for providing replacement parking at Stubbing Holme Road for that lost on the A646: those parking at Mayroyd because it provides free longstay parking (maybe because they have a low paid job) won’t be transferring to a paid car park on the other side of town, whilst rail travellers will transfer to the expanded station car park.
  • Access to the proposed car park is at probably the most polluted part of the Hebden air quality management area (AQMA), declared in 2006 but with air pollution still exceeding the legal limits 14 years later. Large quantities of cars will have to manoeuvre in and out of  the inadequate access from the A646, causing queueing in both directions on the main road, and then proceeding across a bridge which already has inadequate pavements: all making the air pollution not better but worse. Calderdale Council has also repeatedly ignored the fact that there is already an existing 30+ space car park almost at the same location which they won’t make available for public parking because it’s uncharged.
  • Calderdale’s planning application has chosen however to completely omit any reference to increased road traffic levels, air pollution in the Hebden Bridge AQMA, these access difficulties, etc, etc. Presumably that would get in the way of the CIP proceeding.  They’ve also failed to point out that this is part of a major expansion of car parking in Hebden Bridge, contradicting their own transport strategy which talks about ‘rationing parking spaces’ and making more productive use of parking sites for such as housing.
  • So it’s even more hypocritical that the application appears to be an attempt to pre-empt the proposal in the draft neighbourhood plan for Hebden Bridge (shortly to go out to public consultation) that the Vale Centre site should be allocated not for parking, but for much-needed new housing, sustainably located in our town centre. Even though Calderdale Council are not proposing to provide the car park until 2022, the consequence of them proceeding with the application now is to undermine the neighbourhood plan proposals for new homes instead, and for the general improvement of the Stubbing Holme Road area.

Maybe Calderdale Council’s slogan - instead of  ‘building a sustainable future’ - ought to be ‘cars before people, cars before homes’. On Weds 4th November it’s likely that Hebden Royd Town Council will be deciding whether or not to support this planning application, and you’ll be able to watch their discussion by Zoom. It’ll be interesting to see where the priorities of our town councillors lie.

From Lesley Mackay

Monday, 2 November 2020

I am really disappointed with Calderdale Council.  For many years now, they have signally failed to tackle the air pollution on the A646.

Apparently the Corridor Improvement Plan was going to sort it all out. Now we hear that air pollution from road traffic is going to increase around Bridge Lanes simply by creating a car park with some of the worst access in Hebden Bridge.  They don't really care, do they?  Queuing traffic on the A646 will have a devastating effect on air quality in this already heavily polluted part of Hebden Bridge.  

At the other end of Hebden Bridge, I am dreading the increase in speed of vehicles storming into Hebden Bridge.  It is a nasty experience as a pedestrian to walk alongside the A646 in Machpelah - just try not to be intimidated.  

Then, waiting longer and longer to be able to cross the road (you do know that pedestrian lights are set to favour motorists).  

Well we know Calderdale's priorities don't we?  Favour the motorists but not the health or welfare of residents. 

From Anthony Rae

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Further to my first posting about the planning application submitted by Calderdale Council for a new 63 space car park off Stubbing Holme Road - this came up for consideration at Hebden Royd Town Council last Wednesday, and having run through the detailed arguments to oppose it, I concluded as follows – “There are many reasons from the national to the very local to object to this application, but in fact they boil down to just one: the DfT want to increase the volume of road traffic nationally; Calderdale Council wants to help them do that, and now - in our town - they want you to support their intention to put ‘cars before people, cars before homes’. Please don’t do that; please reject the application.”

I’m pleased to report that the vast majority of councillors supported this position and voted to object to the application. It now goes to Calderdale Council’s own Planning Committee for formal determination. You’ve still time to submit your own comments here, where you’ll also be able to read the reasons why Friends of the Earth have objected.

See also: Planning Watch