AT the heart of the Local Development Framework is the statement from Kirklees policy and planning officers that a further 26,200 homes will be needed across Kirklees by 2028.
Their calculations are based on the number of homes built over the last 10 years from 1999 when the forerunner of the LDF, the Unitary Development Plan (UDP), was adopted to the year 2009 and the growth of the population of Kirklees estimated over the next 15 years.
The housing figures for 2009/2010 have not been included, probably because house construction throughout the country stagnated and the figure in Kirklees for this particular year would be very low in comparison with the boom years.
While the figures of the total number of houses constructed is readily available from Kirklees statistics and therefore can be accepted as factual, the future growth of population is not. In this instance, we need calculations based on facts, not presumptions.
In the boom years of 2006/7 and 2007/08 more than 2,000 homes were built. In all the other years between 1999 and 2009 the number was about 1,000.
The claim that a further figure of 26,200 houses will be needed over the period of the proposed LDF has not been justified by the policy and planning officers. A more realistic figure is most likely to be about 1,200 a year, which would give a total construction figure of 18,000 houses over the period of the proposed LDF.
This figure would be more compatible to the present economic crisis of this country.
Kirklees states in its LDF literature that it has already identified 12,350 homes on brown field sites and intends to encourage developers to build on these sites before green field sites.
The developers much prefer green field sites because the construction work is much quicker and cheaper, so encouragement is pointless. It should become policy that these sites must be developed first before planning permission is given for green field or green belt sites.
If this policy was adopted and with further ‘windfalls’ of brown field sites possibly becoming available, the need for green field sites would be drastically reduced and green belt sites not required.
Kirklees councillors must reject this proposed plan and instruct their officers to reconsider their options and join the rest of us in the real world.
IT is important to understand that under the previous government Kirklees had a housing target imposed on it but has now taken the brave step to significantly reduce that figure even though the previous government’s figures are still technically in force.
There seems to be an argument put forward by groups like Kirklees Community Action Network (KCAN) and others that somehow the population growth figures used by Kirklees are out of date and population projections would fall massively as a result of the economic downturn.
The latest Office for National Statistics projections produced in early 2010 indicate that, long term, recessions do not affect population growth.
The latest 2010 government data on net migration into the UK shows no sign of a slowdown of a net increase in population via migration.
Kirklees is required to use a sound evidence base to produce the LDF. I would suggest that if groups like KCAN have evidence to counter such statistics it is brought forward immediately.
As a Holme Valley resident I am very concerned that the infrastructure in Holmfirth cannot accommodate growth of 25% as outlined in the LDF, as some of the other smaller settlements cannot, so I offer an alternative approach.
Government planning guidance states that local authorities only need assign housing land supply for 10 years, not the full 18 years or so of the LDF. Also, every year, new ‘windfall’ sites will be put forward by developers for housing, many of which will be deemed suitable and given permission.
These can then be added to the 10 year supply which, while it remains above the housing requirement, means that no new sites need to be re-allocated for housing.
So if the population projections altered radically or if houses simply were not built, then green field and green belt sites would not need to come into the equation. This approach would also allow an aspiration for Huddersfield to have more of a focus for growth via windfall sites where the infrastructure is more suitable for growth.
I would also like to see a strong sequential approach developed in the plans where developers are forced to use up all available brown field land, before green field or green belt land is even re-allocated for housing.
Wrecking the Colne Valley
IF you live in the Colne Valley then read this as it will directly affect you and your future.
Kirklees Council, against the wishes of Government, is proposing to build about 2,200 houses in the Colne Valley before 2028.
It’s a reasonable assumption that each house will have at least one car and half have two. This means an extra 3,300 cars in the Colne Valley.
There is no reasonable prospect of any jobs being created here so each car will have to drive out of the valley on a daily basis to seek work.
There is only one two lane road into Huddersfield and two other routes to the motorway – one through the centre of Slaithwaite and one through the centre of Linthwaite.
None of these routes can cope now with the level of traffic and there is no possible way to widen Manchester Road nor the two bridges in Slaithwaite and Milnsbridge.
The way of life of every one of us currently living in the valley will change forever and will become intolerable.
We must all make Kirklees Council aware that these proposals cannot be allowed to proceed. If we do nothing, we will all suffer.
Where’s the sense?
MAY I applaud and refer to Lynne Heeley’s excellent letter with imaginary photographs which appeared in last Saturday’s Examiner and also to thank the Examiner for printing these letters outlining the strong opposition to LDF policy?
I just hope Kirklees takes all this opposition on board, has a rethink and in the mean time stops wasting the Council Tax funds with the printing of more coloured booklets on this.
I remember Huddersfield with far less road traffic, five working hospitals and a much smaller population. Now we have one main hospital, roads in bad repair and often gridlocked and a higher population.
Kirklees Council’s answer is to build more houses and bring the population even higher. Where is the sense in that?
New Laithe Hill Resident
Thumbs up for the LDF
ON the evidence of the LDF consultation in Milnsbridge, rather surprisingly given all the adverse publicity it has generated, the proposals were given the thumbs up by the vast majority of people who attended the event.
There wasn’t a single raised voice or harsh word spoken and speaking to a number of the Kirklees officers who conducted the consultation they confirmed that generally the proposals received a positive reception.
This was despite the presence of leading members from KCAN who have been orchestrating strong opposition at meetings and in the media.
What a stark contrast to last week’s meeting – debate and questions – at Honley where the overwhelming majority of the residents were opposed to the LDF proposals.
I look forward to this evening’s consultation in Meltham with interest and wonder if either mood or outcome will be repeated.
Independent, Holme Valley North
Open for debate
THE leader of Kirklees Council was willing to discuss the LDF with Labour Party members at their meeting, but was unable to attend the Huddersfield area committee meeting where a cross-section of the public was present to discuss the same subject.
What are we to deduce from this?
Let’s delay decision
DAVID Griffiths argued in Monday’s Examiner that we need an LDF and that it is a legal requirement. Actually David, it’s a government requirement, not a legal requirement, but you’re near enough.
Let me say absolutely clearly that KCAN fully supports the requirement for a core strategy. However, we also say it has to be fair, practical, realistic and achievable and that, very sadly, the council’s current LDF proposals are none of these.
David’s argument that the council’s ability to resist inappropriate development will be weakened if we don’t have an LDF also has a grain of truth in it, but as so often happens in the public sector, it is being extrapolated and extended beyond all reason by the planning department.
My understanding of the true position is that the current UDP does not have an expiry date and there is therefore no prospect of a legal vacuum. Also, I quote from the UDP itself: “While there are no hard and fast rules on how often a plan should be reviewed, the Secretary of State for the Environment expects plans to be reviewed at least once every five years.’’
As the last revision only came into force on September 28, 2007, it seems fairly obvious to me that the council has until September 2012 to review it again.
Even if the LDF doesn’t replace the UDP by that date, the world does not come to an end. Aggressive developers would have to take every single contentious planning application to appeal and argue that the council had failed in its obligation to review the strategy.
Would they want to do that? Could they afford to do that?
It is by no means certain they would win, especially if the council could point to legitimate reasons why the LDF had been delayed, perhaps to reflect the effects of the economic recession, public concerns or the requirements of the forthcoming Localism Bill.
Don’t forget that the Localism Bill is going to give communities and the public a much greater say on planning issues and the LDF core strategy needs to reflect that.
I am sorry, but the idea that the world will fall apart if we don’t capitulate to the LDF as it stands now just doesn’t stand up to examination. Isn’t it better to get it right than it is to get it early?
Kirklees Community Action Network