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Brearley Fields flood overflow does its job

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Storm Christope last week turned Brearley Fields into a lake.

Four years in the making but moving towards completion in 2020, Sports England put in a formal objection. They maintained this would mean the removal of formal football pitches. This was taken to Calderdale Council Planning Committee in December where Cllr Scott Archer-Patient and Town Council Mayor Val Stevens spoke on behalf of moving this amazing plan forward. They agreed and it passed unanimously.

They then had to go direct to the Secretary of State to seek permission to over-rule Sport England's objection which did not take local factors into consideration. On Christmas Eve, notice was received that they were deferring to the local planning authority to make the decision - the scheme is going ahead!

The Canal overflow (part of the Environment Agency £40M flood alleviation scheme has done its job & taken canal water that has previously overtopped behind Burnley Road Academy (and other sites) and deposited it into the fields.

The site, which was previously managed by Calder High School as playing fields, is currently well used by the local population, including Hebden Bridge Saints Junior Football Club, for recreational activities and dog walking.

The Wetland Nature Reserve scheme will see the creation of new permanent ponds, with associated scrapes and hollows connected to the River Calder which will flood naturally when the river levels rise.

Other elements include reedbeds, native mixed woodland planting, meadow habitats and paths around the site for public access.

These measures are expected to benefit birds, fish and other local wildlife, attract visitors to the area and provide opportunities for environmental education & local volunteering.

The Moderna portion of the site will remain as sports pitches, managed by Hebden Bridge Saints Football Club. The original plans have be adapted to give local sports even more space to use so hopefully everyone will be happy.

A lot of work went into making this happen. Cllr Scott Archer-Patient said, "We all owe big thanks to since-retired Calderdale Officer Anne Holdsworth for all her energy in making this happen, Ward Councillor Jane Scullion for negotiating the space for local sports and to Royd Regeneration for pushing this. Countless others working behind the scenes on this too."

Thanks to Cllr Scott Archer-Patient for info and photos