Where it began…

The Upper Calder Valley Renaissance was the first project anywhere in the UK to tackle the challenging and complex job of transforming an entire valley. This 14 mile section of the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire was earmarked by Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency, as an area ripe for regeneration on all levels. In late 2002 they appointed consultants John Thompson & Partners to undertake the biggest consultation exercise ever seen in the area. More than 2,000 individuals, organisations and businesses had their say in how they would like to see the valley re-born.

You can read the document here (Upper Calder Valley Master Plan) which was produced after the consultation by John Thompson and partners. This valley wide research exercise was carried out in 2003 and was the starting point for the renaissance work in the Upper Calder Valley.

The challenge ahead

The project was designed to run for 25 years and in November 2014 we held a 10 year celebration conference and workshop to assess where we go from here. The full findings can be found here, (Taking Stock and Looking Forward) but what was clear from the keynote speakers was that the UCVR needed to adapt to changing economic and social environments. It was said that “the old regeneration industry is largely dead”

The UCVR was then set a challenge: “At a time of economic uncertainty, a loss of public trust in both public and private institutions, deepening social division, and large scale public spending cuts year on year for the foreseeable future, what will it be possible to achieve?”

Should we set out to create ‘resilient communities’, just protecting what we have until better days? Or should we be more positive and become ‘ready for everything communities’? That is communities not just able to withstand external shocks, but also willing and eager to seek out new possibilities, looking forward all the time.

This emphasis on positive change for the UCVR was added by our former Chair, Canon James Allison, who said “Learning to change is key, as is finding our unity in diversity, investing in people, training, consultation, support and partnership working. It is by focussing on these important principles and attributes, and because it is all about people, that has enabled the UCVR to carry on following the demise of Yorkshire Forward in 2010”.

As a result of the challenge and consultation workshop the UCVR has undergone regeneration itself. Visiting our news page will give you a flavour of current progress towards meeting the modern challenges of the Calder Valley.

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