Calderdale Council is actively taking measures to safeguard the local heritage by suggesting the assignment of special conservation status to a section of West Vale. This move aims to protect historically significant assets that contribute to the region’s distinctive charm, foster local pride, and attract tourism, ultimately supporting the prosperity of the towns and surrounding areas.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the textile industry played a crucial role in shaping Calderdale’s past, leading to the establishment of numerous mills and related structures. Today, some of these historical buildings can be found in the village of West Vale, such as the former mill office and two foremen’s houses linked to the now-demolished West Vale Mill. These structures, constructed from local stone and in well-preserved condition, hold captivating stories and architectural significance.
Unfortunately, these three unlisted buildings are currently at risk of imminent demolition, posing a threat to the area’s visual appeal and historical ambience. As demolitions of such buildings currently do not require planning permission, the Council will propose the urgent designation of the central core of West Vale as a Conservation Area during the meeting with Cabinet Members on Monday 7 August. This designation would safeguard the historic structures as demolition would necessitate planning permission within the Conservation Area status.
West Vale boasts other noteworthy historical assets that merit the proposed Conservation Area status. These include the 17th-century Clay House and barn, various other former textile industry buildings and residences, civic structures, and the Grade II listed railway viaduct over Stainland Road. The area’s heritage significance has also been recognised in the Calderdale Local Plan.
A Conservation Area is defined under Section 69 (1) (a) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as an area of ‘special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.’ By designating West Vale as a Conservation Area, Calderdale Council aims to protect and enhance these valuable historical assets for the benefit of current and future generations.
Cllr Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said; “Calderdale’s heritage buildings and features play an important part in the borough’s identity, sense of place and distinctiveness. Our Local Plan and Council priorities champion the protection of our historic environment.
“West Vale played a prominent part in the borough’s textile and industrial heritage. It is only right that we do all we can to conserve the much-loved former mill buildings that are threatened with demolition but contribute so positively to the village’s character and appearance.”
If approved by Cabinet and Full Council, a Conservation Area appraisal and public consultation would be undertaken after the designation of the area.