Copley group vow to keep fighting

TEMPERS may have cooled since the controversial Copley development was given the go-ahead earlier this week but residents’ frustration has not.

More than 80 residents and councillors filled the Halifax Town Hall’s council chamber for a heated planning meeting on Tuesday night.

Objectors Mick Coughlan and Steve Ainsworth made passionate pleas for the scheme to be refused in their ten-minute slot before ward councillors from Skircoat and Sowerby Bridge made their cases.

Richard Ingram, from developer Genr8, took to the microphone and told councillors that while his company could not meet all the needs of the development, they hoped the £10m investment in infrastructure and a £2 million new-homes bonus, which would go directly to the council, would make up for an almost tenfold shortfall in the amount needed to meet increases on the education system.

He also spoke about the impact of the 577 jobs the scheme will bring to Calderdale and the building of a nature reserve.

After hearing all the reports and speakers, reluctant councillors spent 15 minutes deliberating whether to grant the hybrid permission.

Ruth Goldthorpe (Todmorden, Lib Dem) made a motion to reject the plans on traffic grounds but could not find another committee member to back her vote.

Tense silence filled the room as chairman Daniel Sutherland spoke to legal officers about how to make progress.

Danielle Coombs (Lab, Ovenden) said: “It seems we’re being almost blackmailed. If we don’t approve it, what are the ramifications in terms of cost and liability? I honestly don’t know what to do,” she said.

She said the panel were concerned about the adverse effect of increased traffic and asked the highways officer – who had refused to support the scheme in his report – to look into alternative options.

Eventually, Coun Coombs raised her hand to propose the scheme should be passed. Shouts broke out from objectors, calling the councillors a “disgrace” and saying it was “a fix”.

Speaking after the meeting Mick Coughlan, from Copley Valley Environment Protection Group, said the group would continue to fight their cause.

“We’ll be looking into what we can do,” he said. “They caved in.”

The increased traffic will affect 19 junctions including Copley Lane, which also has a primary school. Andrea Coughlan said: “When somebody gets killed on this road because of this, I just hope they can live with it.”