COMMUNITY groups opposed to Kirklees Council’s house-building plan today reveal their vision of the future. BARRY GIBSON reports
CAMPAIGNERS have unveiled their alternative house-building blueprint for Huddersfield and surrounding areas.
The Local Development Framework (LDF) drawn up by Kirklees Council envisages 28,000 new homes in the district by 2028.
But a coalition of residents’ groups today unveiled its alternative proposal.
Kirklees Community Action Network (KCAN) has revealed its 14-page document entitled Planning for the Future – A Better Way.
And the group believes it has a good chance of persuading the council to accept its much lower house-building target.
Slaithwaite man Robert Bamforth, one of the spokesmen for the group, said yesterday: “I personally think Kirklees is very interested in some of the ideas we have put forward.”
KCAN believes the council’s target of an average of 1,545 new houses a year until 2028 is too high.
The group has produced a plan for 1,040 extra homes each year – a proposal it claims will protect green belt land.
Mr Bamforth said: “The council’s figures come from the Ecotec Report which was drawn up before the recession really hit.
“Kirklees doesn’t have a really strong reason for arriving at the figure of 1,545 new homes each year.
“Our argument is that the council is still advocating a 50% increase above the average number of new homes achieved in the last 10 years.
“The council’s plan of delivering 1,545 new homes each year would end up using all the green field land and would take a bite out of the green belt.
“Our plan would involve significantly less green field take and no green belt take.”
KCAN believes the council’s LDF – which includes house-building targets for every village in Kirklees – is too detailed.
Mr Bamforth said: “In Slaithwaite, to give an example, the council has said there should be 335 new homes but they haven’t taken a look at sites in the village.
“How do they know Slaithwaite can take 335 houses?
“Other councils like Leeds, Wakefield and Calderdale have not allocated houses to settlements in this way.”
Mr Bamforth, who is a retired management consultant and civil engineer, believes the LDF should be more flexible.
He said: “You’ve got to put change at the heart of whole process and be able to respond to the reality of the situation.”
Mr Bamforth added that Kirklees should consider the impact of the Localism Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament.
He said: “The bill will give communities the right to prepare neighbourhood plans.
“It is intended that local people will have a much greater say about how planning is prepared for their area.
“A lot of the detail of the bill is still being prepared so there’s an element of uncertainty in the minds of Kirklees planners as to what it will mean.
“But the council ought to be thinking about how the Localism Bill affects them.”
KCAN is a loosely based network of seven community action groups based in Denby Dale, the Holme Valley, Slaithwaite, Skelmanthorpe, Scissett, Lindley Moor and Linthwaite.
Mr Bamforth said: “All the groups were doing their own thing, but we realised that if we were going to have an impact on the LDF we would have to work together.
“We formed the network but it’s not a formal group – we don’t have a chairman or a secretary.”
Some members of the network were vocal opponents of the LDF during the council’s consultation on the plan earlier this year.
But Mr Bamforth said yesterday that the network was hopeful the council would now work with it.
“We want to work co-operatively with Kirklees. We’ve had meetings with the leader of the council and with planners,” he said.
“I think it’s important that we work with the council – and that’s always been the case.”
Mr Bamforth, who is a member of Lingards Community Association, added that he hoped Kirklees would respond positively to KCAN’s blueprint.
He said: “It’s difficult to say which elements of our proposal the council would adopt.
“But we hope it will be a lot, because we think they are common sense proposals”.