Local Plan is passed ... but it could be 2018 by the time it's finally in place

Local Plan is passed ... but it could be 2018 by the time it's finally in place

A CONTROVERSIAL planning blueprint for thousands of new homes in North Kirklees has been passed. 

Councillors voted in favour of an amended Local Plan on Wednesday night despite major opposition from members of the public and a number of elected members.

Proposals to build up to 4,000 new homes on green belt between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe and 1,500 on a mixed-use site at Chidswell in Dewsbury made it through to the second draft of the plan. Sites in Cleckheaton and Cooper Bridge, Mirfield, are also included.

The Local Plan is a major blueprint that will allocate land for homes and industry in Kirklees up to the year 2031.

The district’s current Unitary Development Plan (UDP), in force since 1999, is years out of date, and a successor, the Local Development Framework, was thrown out by a government planning inspector.

Conservative councillors did not support the Labour-run authority’s amended Local Plan proposal, with Tory leader Coun David Hall (Liversedge & Gomersal) saying they did not agree with Labour on the need for 30,000 new homes – despite the Conservative government demanding that figure.

He said: “We acknowledge the need to get an acceptable plan agreed but this cannot be at any cost.”

But Green leader Coun Andrew Cooper said the Tories had nobody to blame but themselves, describing it as a “shambles of your own making”.

Dewsbury Labour councillor Paul Kane described it as “vitally important” to accept the soundness of the Local Plan.

He said: “Anyone that has anything to do with planning will not have to be reminded that we need to have a plan that is sound and robust, as for the last four years, we have been held to ransom by ruthless and greedy developers who have challenged us every step of the way, over our lack of a 25-year housing supply.”

Members of the public were allowed the opportunity to address the council at the meeting in Huddersfield.

Cheryl Tyler, from the campaign group Save Mirfield, said there was huge concern in the town about what the plan would mean for green belt land.

She described fields off Sands Lane as prime agricultural land rather than wasteland and cited a recent planning application to improve a small ice cream parlour that was turned down because it was on green belt land.

The vote was passed 34-23, with three abstentions.

Despite the council’s decision there is still a long way to go before the Local Plan can be legally adopted. Another public consultation exercise will open on November 7.

The plan will then be altered if necessary and a final draft will be submitted to the planning inspectorate in March. Government officials will then have until December next year to examine Kirklees’ proposals.

If the plan is approved, councillors will then be asked to vote again in early 2018.

Tory councillor Martyn Bolt (Mirfield), said that he hoped campaign groups would continue to oppose the plans in the coming consultation period, describing it as a “long fight ahead.”

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