Cam­paign­ers back plans in­quiry doubts

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

COM­MU­NITY cam­paign­ers have backed a planning in­spec­tor’s con­cerns over Kirklees Coun­cil’s de­vel­op­ment master­plan.

The coun­cil’s long awaited blueprint for hous­ing and in­dus­try, the Lo­cal Plan, is be­ing probed by a gov­ern­ment ap­pointed in­spec­tor over the next few months.

Last week af­ter the first phase of the pub­lic in­quiry at the Hu­dawi Cen­tre in Hud­der­s­field was com­pleted, in­spec­tor Katie Child raised a num­ber of con­cerns about what she had heard so far.

She also called into ques­tion whether Kirklees can de­liver the 31,140 houses re­quired in time, de­scrib­ing planning of­fi­cers’ pro­pos­als as “op­ti­mistic.”

Fur­ther con­cerns were raised about the dis­tri­bu­tion of hous­ing and em­ploy­ment al­lo­ca­tions across the bor­ough.

Com­mu­nity ac­tion groups that have been tak­ing part in the in­quiry have said they are pleased with the progress made so far.

Mem­bers of Kirklees Com­mu­nity Ac­tion Group (KCAN), Save Mir­field, Holme Val­ley Vi­sion, Up­per Dearne En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust and Chidswell Ac­tion Group have been work­ing with the Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land (CPRE) to high­light com­plaints about plans for their ar­eas.

A spokesper­son for the groups said they felt “re­as­sured” that the in­spec­tor had high­lighted a num­ber of their con­cerns to the coun­cil.

In a joint state­ment, they said: “The need for more hous­ing is not doubted – what is ques­tioned is the amount of land Kirklees has al­lo­cated for house build­ing and the lo­ca­tion of those sites.

“We feel Kirklees has put too much aside for build­ing and in­dus­trial use.

“Our big­gest fear is the sort of hous­ing which is needed – small, low-cost prop­er­ties in ar­eas where the pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing – will just not hap­pen.”

They added: “We fear the Lo­cal Plan will leave de­vel­op­ers an open door to build on large swathes of green fields and green­belt land, while brown­field sites in ex­ist­ing built up ar­eas will be left to go derelict.”

Robert Bam­forth, of KCAN, said they felt the coun­cil was yet to prove the “ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances” re­quired in planning law to al­low build­ing on the green belt.

The coun­cil has tar­geted a num­ber of green belt sites for thou­sands of homes, in­clud­ing parts of Bradley Park golf course, an area around Mir­field and Raven­sthorpe and part of Chidswell in Dews­bury.

The groups said they felt as­sur­ances that the Lo­cal Plan would re­gen­er­ate Hud­der­s­field and Dews­bury had not been car­ried through to the plan.

“Much of the land al­lo­cated for hous­ing is in ru­ral ar­eas, some dis­tance from these cen­tres,” said the state­ment.

“As more of the em­ploy­ment sites lie to the north of Hud­der­s­field, this will force peo­ple to travel to work by car.

“So much for the plan’s in­ten­tion of re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions.”

The sec­ond stage of Lo­cal Plan hear­ings were due to be­gin on Novem­ber 14 but they have been shelved af­ter the in­spec­tor was un­able to at­tend due to per­sonal rea­sons.

The third stage is cur­rently sched­uled to be heard as planned, be­gin­ning on De­cem­ber 5.

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