Chris has been busy working with the team developing plans for the projected Station to be built at Elland

As you know, I’ve been trying to get involved with the “powers that be” in planning decisions for some time. Improving the roads, opening a new building, changing use – I’ll always have an opinion, I’m a Yorkshireman after all!

I’ve got a lot of knowledge and a lot of lived experience – worth listening to – right?

However, it’s all very well shouting from the sidelines, but does that really do any good?

Anyone like me can say “That will never work” or “You can’t be serious” or even “Whoever came up with that needs …….!” All very satisfying, but does it really affect anything?

So what’s it like when someone actually comes back and says “OK, put your money where your mouth is and work with us, tell us where we’re going wrong”?

It’s very satisfying actually.

I was invited to work with the Team developing plans for the projected Station to be built at Elland, together with plans for access improvements in the wider surrounding area.

A train comes into the station at Elland

What a totally positive experience.

I was listened to, included in every decision, referred to, and generally made to feel I was a very relevant member of the Team.

I soon realised what a huge amount of research goes into this level of planning, and what a balancing act many decisions represent. From my point of view I might state firmly that such and such should happen based on my extensive knowledge of my disability and the disabilities of others – the Team might know something of what I say, but they also know about costs they’ve been told about, and they might know about serious engineering requirements, underlying building constraints shaped by the landscape, local pressures from residents, businesses, hospitals schools etc etc.

Aerial artists impression of the proposed station at Elland. Trees are in the background with bridges over two rivers in the foreground

Reading the very detailed architects’ and engineers’ plans – luckily my maths background allows me to do that – shows me the complexity involved in even apparently simple constructions such as a public shelter on a platform or a ramp up to a bridge.

I’m learning so much. My principles haven’t changed at all, but I’ve gained massive respect for the work put in by designers, architects, engineers and the rest, trying to follow guidelines and regulations whilst providing what the public wants, all within cost.

Aerial artists impression of the West Vale Bridge at Elland. Trees are in the background with bridges over a river on the left

Hopefully I’m having some effect on the others too, breaking down barriers, creating new connections and priorities and changing long-held points of view.

Ultimately though –as in every aspect of life – however simple or complex something appears to be, it’s all a series of compromises, and we all do the best we can.

Until next time, keep safe,