Big plans for vast tract of Halifax land

PLANS to transform a large tract of land into an outdoor recreation and jobs facility will be dependent on finding money from external sources, a council has warned.

Calderdale Council and other bodies are proposing a masterplan for a 100-acre piece of land in the Calder Valley between Elland and Brighouse.

The area is made up of the former landfill site at North Bank Loop and Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve.

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Although a lot of work has been done to enhance the wildlife value of the area, the council says the area offers only limited recreational or economic benefit.

The location makes it ideal for the creation of cycle and walking trails which could easily link the area to Rastrick, Brighouse, Elland, Southowram and the Lowfields industrial estate.

Council bosses have ruled out the site being used for a major employment development because the council owned land is in the Green Belt and because the former Cromwell Bottom tip contains many decades of mixed domestic and commercial refuse which is very deep.

A report to be discussed by Calderdale’s cabinet committee on Monday, April 13 proposes the creation this year of a masterplan for the Cromwell Bottom.

The following ideas are being considered:

* Construction of a visitor centre at the entrance to North Bank Loop former landfill site.

* A network of walking and cycling trails, starting and ending at the proposed visitor centre.

* A new route linking Cromwell Bottom, the Lowfields industrial estate and the future Elland station, which may include a new bridge across the river.

* Play areas for children and facilities for camping, canoeing and wildlife watching.

* Restoration of historic features such as Tag Lock and the arch bridge on the disused canal known as Tag Cut.

* New hydro-generating plant on the river Calder.

* Creation of a small-scale start-up employment space.

However, the council has stated that the target for revenue input from its own funds “should be zero in order to make the project sustainable in the long term, and every opportunity for complementary self-funding activities would be considered at the design stage.”

The report says that the project is not sufficiently developed to allow cost estimates but investment is likely to be “considerable” over several years.

External grants could support capital costs, including European funding. Money from Section 106 money from local developments could also support the scheme. External consultants may have to be used to produce a sustainable business plan for the site.

Mark Thompson, the council’s head of housing, environment and renewal, said the cabinet would be considering consulting the public on various ideas.

“Following consideration of the public response, the project would require further development to allow costs to be estimated and funding sought.”

* The name of the project has still to be agreed - but Calderdale Council chiefs believe that ‘Cromwell Bottom’ isn’t a great one.

“To the uninitiated, Cromwell Bottom does not sound inviting or appealing and a new ‘brand’ name may be preferable,” according to a report to the council’s cabinet committee.

The report adds: “There are other names with local significance that would be explored more at consultation stage.”

The council says that the development of a masterplan would include consultation through public meetings and exhibitions, site activity days and engagement through websites and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.