DEVELOPERS are exploiting Kirklees Council’s lack of an up-to-date planning strategy.
That is the view of Coun Steve Hall, who hit out this week at proposals for 66 new houses in Heckmondwike.
Jones Homes want to build on land off White Lee Road near the border with Batley.
It was recommended by officers for refusal at a planning meeting in Huddersfield yesterday (Thursday) as the land is designated urban green space in the council’s Unitary Development Plan (UDP).
But this is considered out-of-date and the lack of a successor masterplan means the authority cannot show a five-year supply of plots for housing.
Coun Hall said: “Because we don’t have a Local Plan, developers are using that as carte blanche to do what they want.”
He added the land retains its ranking as urban green space in a draft version of the Local Plan.
This is one step down from green belt and affords some protection against development.
Coun Hall said: “I see it as a vital piece of land in that we have separate settlements, like Heckmondwike and Batley.
“If we were to lose such land we’d also lose that definition – everything would be urban sprawl.”
Consultation on the Local Plan ended in February and it could finally be in place by next year.
Coun Hall (Lab, Heckmond-wike) hopes the council’s leadership crisis does not see the draft policy re-opened.
It is claimed that proposals in the Local Plan to build on a Huddersfield golf course were a factor in the ousting of Coun David Sheard as council leader.
Coun Hall said: “The worrying thing is if the Local Plan is tinkered with it would have to go back out to consultation.
“If that were to happen, we could run out of time and the Government would impose one.
“That could leave us mortified as there could be things in it we don’t want but can’t do anything about.”