Cabinet to revise Local Plan strategy

KIRKLEES Council cabinet members have been asked to revise a planning strategy for housing and industrial development in the district. 

It follows comments and protests made during a consultation period for the original draft of the Local Plan, which is supposed to allocate land for homes and industry up to the year 2031.

The current Unitary Development Plan (UDP), in force since 1999, is years out of date. A successor, the Local Development Framework, was thrown out by a government planning inspector.

Some of the changes include amending the location of development sites and altering some of the policies that were proposed initially. The council says it will consider factors such as housing needs, affordability and the protection of green belt spaces.

The public consultation at the end of last year was the biggest ever managed by the council, with almost 6,000 people making 17,750 comments. More than 10,000 of the comments were in relation to land allocated in the draft plan.

Coun Peter McBride, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The evidence tells us to plan for about 31,000 new homes over the plan period.

“With some developments in the pipeline already, we have had to find about 21,000 in this plan.

“Having a Local Plan in place is not a choice. Government tells us we have to have this and the Planning Inspectorate will decide whether our plan is sound.

“So our process has to be based on evidence and not political expediency.

“Officers have spent the last six months going through these comments and making changes to the plan where amendments are justified.

“The proposals are ambitious, with empl-oyment opportunities for local people and clustered in strategic locations which mean we can access regional funding to make the transformational changes to road and transport networks to sustain consistent economic growth.”

Included in the plan are two major proposals for up to 5,500 homes in North Kirklees.

A plot south east of Mirfield, off Ravensthorpe Road, could hold up to 4,000 homes as part of a plan to rejuvenate the Ravensthorpe area. Fields off Chidswell in Dewsbury have also been approved as a mixed use plot. Planning officials say it could accommodate 1,500 homes and a large business park.

Residents’ action groups set up in a bid to halt development on green spaces are likely to continue to fight against the proposals.

The plan will go before all 69 Kirklees councillors at a meeting on October 12 at Huddersfield Town Hall (3pm). Members of the public can attend but anyone  wishing to speak has until 4pm today (Friday) to register and should contact andrea.woodside@kirklees. gov.uk.

If given the go-ahead, the Local Plan will go before the government and planning inspectorate for approval and could be implemented as early as 2018.

Leader of Kirklees Council Coun David Sheard said: “It is really important that the plan is found to be sound because if we are in a position where there is no plan at all, the Secretary of State would intervene and impose a plan on us.

“If no plan is in place, we would have much less control over planning processes, so it would be difficult if not impossible to safeguard our urban greenspace or our green belt. That would continue to be at risk.

“I think the other political groups on the council, while probably not agreeing entirely with the proposals as they stand, understand and recognise the need for us to have a sound plan in place.

“I think they believe the proposals we have are sound, although politically they are difficult. The issue is bigger than any piece of land in any individual ward and I am asking all councillors to see that bigger picture.”

A second public consultation will begin on November 7.

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