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'Enterprise zone' that could bring £46m to local economy each year is approved

A MAJOR multi-million pound business park will go ahead in principal after councillors approved outline proposals for Clifton Enterprise Zone near Brighouse.

Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee voted to support the plans for the 25.5 hectare site at land off Coal Pit Lane at Clifton, in line with planning officer's' recommendations, but the proposals are not without opposition, with concerns particularly about traffic congestion and air quality voiced at the meeting at Halifax Town Hall.

Councillors heard that when complete it would result in 1,300 jobs and would generate a contribution to Calderdale’s economy of £42.6 million each year.

The site will be be one of the Leeds City Region’s Enterprise Zones, supported by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Calderdale Council, and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The borough was short of space for businesses to grow and was in need of a site like this, with 11 hectares of the 25.5 developable representing a third of land in Calderdale which could be developed in this way, said officers.

But concerns were voiced by councillors and objectors about the scheme, which is supported by the Leeds City Region, which includes Calderdale.

Coun David Kirton (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) had questions about traffic levels and the directions it would travel, Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) wanted to know more about how much traffic would cut through the site and Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) had questions about the impact of traffic on Clifton Common and its junction with Wakefield Road.

Tony Perryman of Clifton Village Forum said the group had particular concerns about highways and air quality matters which he said forum members felt had been “unjustifiably downplayed” in the report to councillors.

“We are deeply concerned development will greatly exacerbate congestion in Brighouse and surrounding areas. Congestion areas are well known,” he said.

The forum had already objected in the strongest terms to the emerging Calderdale Local Plan especially highways evidence which in its view was predicated on “wholly unsubstantiated” projections of delivery of infrastructure, he said.

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The group also queried the viability of the enterprise zone project, he said.

Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) referred the committee to detailed comments made in the report by his group leader and fellow ward councillor, Scott Benton, which included highways, air quality, concerns the site was inappropriate and about potential crime. He was also worried about the topography of the site, arguing it had previously used for open cast mining.

Regarding potential increases in traffic, Coun Blagbrough added “on a daily basis, Brighouse is already congested” and wanted councillors to defer their decision until they were satisfied the scheme could be delivered.

In terms of revenue, there was the risk Calderdale could lose out and business rate money would end up going to Leeds City Region, he said.

But Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) asked officers if there was interest among businesses about the site and they indicated there was, with five companies already definitely interested and potentially another three.

Coun Bellenger said: “To me, this is going to bring quite a number of jobs to Calderdale, it’s also going to improve the economy of Calderdale and Brighouse.

“It’s something that’s needed.”

Councillors agreed and approved the proposals.

Following their decision, the council’s Cabinet member for Regeneration and Resources, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said: “It’s great news for the borough that following the approval of this development at planning committee last night, these proposals can now take a step forward.

“This is a real opportunity to boost our local economy by attracting new businesses to the area and allowing existing firms to expand.

“Detailed plans will now be developed and there will be a further opportunity for people to have their say on these proposals at a later stage.”