Area could be a major asset for Calderdale

Westborough Drive

Halifax

Looking at the long strip of derelict land running from Sowerby Bridge down the river towards Copley, it is hard to believe anyone would oppose a half-reasonable development plan.

This ribbon of brown-field land, tucked in the valley bottom and abandoned by long-departed industries, seems mostly unknown and un-noticed, even by local people. If you walk here regularly it’s clear that, apart from the canal towpath, the area is largely deserted and little used except by the businesses along Holmes Road (and the Mearclough refuse site).

There is some wildlife, certainly - but the overriding impression is of dereliction and bare land - and nature seems to be coming back only very reluctantly.

If there are concerns about flooding downstream - people are right to demand assurances - but that’s hardly a reason for a blanket “No”.

The Holmes Road highway improvements would ease the chronic traffic congestion in Sowerby Bridge and make that town centre pleasanter and improve the business opportunities there

People should be demanding the best kind of re-development - the best design, the best, most imaginative housing and - most importantly - the best employment opportunities.

This area could be a major asset for Calderdale - what about a Science Park set within the Calder valley’s green hills - yet with excellent transport links north and south, east and west? And with a Riviera Walk (linking into Wharf Street at Sowerby Bridge) passing attractive and striking houses?

Instead of saying “No”, we should be setting our imaginations free and asking for the best possible use for this land.

Business visitors to this valley are always envious of what we’ve got in my experience - so we only have ourselves to blame if we stick our heads in the sand and refuse to make the most of it and make it work for us.

Paul Cairns