How plans to revitalise Calderdale towns like Brighouse, Elland and Todmorden are shaping up

Full business cases for key multi-million pound Towns Fund schemes in Calderdale will be submitted to Government over the next two months.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 24th June 2022, 6:00 am

In the spring the Government announced awards of £19.1 million for Brighouse and £17.5 million for Todmorden but the Town Deal Boards in each town, helped by Calderdale Council, have to submit the full business cases for each component by deadline dates to secure the funding.

The Brighouse business cases for five projects are due to be submitted by the end of July but as these will involve switching small portions of the money from two of the schemes to two others will need Government approval to make the changes first.

Meanwhile the Todmorden business cases will be submitted to the Government for their ten schemes early in August, with a pledge that there will be more consultation opportunities, particularly over one of the more controversial items.

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Setting the stall out: Plans for a new look Brighouse market are among several Town Deal schemes in Calderdale

Some of the Town Board projects are community-led and other aspects council-led.

The new Cabinet member for Towns, Engagement and Public Health, Coun Sarah Courtney (Lab, Calder), said with strong market towns in Calderdale the building blocks were in place for making progress.

“We want to make sure we are investing in those towns to make the built environment as good as it can be and make it better because that has a positive impact on activity levels,” she said.

This includes making people more active, encouraging more active travel and helping people age well, and public health indicated to make sure of an active population developing streets that feel safe was important, said Coun Courtney.

An artist's impression of the new Elland Railway Station

The council’s Assistant Director for Housing, Economy and Investment, Kate McNicholas, said the Brighouse Board had agreed some changes in the way the resources were split, all relating to public space schemes – this request has to be approved by, and has been submitted to, the Government and indications were positive.

This will see a relatively small reduction in the money for the Brighouse Welcome project of just under £500,000 and while a sum was also being taken from the Canalside/Thornton Square the outcome delivered should be the same.

Almost £1 million has been moved to the project promoting increasing walking and active travel, and a similar sum is being put into the scheme to revitalise Brighouse Market, in terms of the number of units and location.

Additionally, around £150,000 extra will be put into the Industry 4.0 hub project, which aims to build on Brighouse’s industrial reputation by developing a state of the art digital hub which small and medium sized companies can use and places for around 70 apprentices, said Ms McNicholas.

Todmorden town centre

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At Todmorden, having a relatively large number of schemes presented challenges but provided a good mix of projects.

Project leads were working hard on full business cases to be submitted early in August, said Ms McNicholas.

She said there were also still scheduled engagements to take place, acknowledging that businesses at Todmorden Market and in the town centre had raised concerns about proposals which would see parking reduced at the main Bramsche Square car park.

Around 2,000 people have signed a petition – parking being the major issue with businesses fearing trade will be hit if people, ranging from older or disabled people to tourists it is hoped improvements to the town will attract cannot park there – which is expected to be presented to the council.

Projects would need to be developed to a level of detail to submit them but indications were there would be scope for work afterwards, said Ms McNicholas.

She said there was clearly a significant voice of concern around parking, which had been based around proposals going back over a considerable period of time.

Proposals had only been outline in terms of setting out what was hoped would be achieved, for example encouraging active travel, and did not have a level of detail, she said.

“That has created a space where there is a lot of concern.

“We have been working on a shortlist of options ” said Ms McNicholas.

“it is important we develop a solution that works for Todmorden.”

This included learning from other towns where pedestrianisation had increased prosperity of an area while being mindful of the context of Todmorden.

Coun Courtney said an element of projects like this encouraged the use of public transport – it did make people nervous and the concerns were being considered.

“The detailed design isn’t done yet and we are listening, we are taking this into consideration and clearly we are not going to do something we think will damage the town fundamentally.

“We want Todmorden to be a thriving place.

“We do understand people are nervous, that people are worried but we want to do things that improve the prosperity and the attractiveness.

“We will do our best to try and choose the best path that suits as many people as possible ,” she said.

Coun Courtney and Ms McNicholas said there would be more consultation before the early August submission.

Other schemes which are progressing include a package to boost the town’s Centre Vale Park.

A cross-partner, including businesses and Together Housing, a Town Board has now also been reconstituted for Elland to focus on what the town has to offer against the backdrop of major investment with creation of Elland Rail Station.

Coun Courtney said Elland was a gateway to Calderdale and had a lot to offer not just through its industrial and historical past put very much in the future as a place to live, work and visit.

As a strategy, the council aimed to play to the strengths each of Calderdale’s diverse towns had to offer to help boost the whole.

“We don’t want all our towns to look the same – we have got brilliant towns all with their own character, and it is about bringing out those characters,” she said.

Ms McNicholas said external promotion of Calderdale was becoming more vigorous, a latest move being the Culturedale project, building on the area’s success in attracting television and film companies to use the borough for their productions, offering as it does easily reached but very varied landscapes and townscapes.