Almost 2,000 new homes can be built near one of Kirklees’ most congested routes without the need for a new road, council officials have claimed.

Kirklees Council has made the case for its controversial ‘Dewsbury Riverside’ housing scheme at the public inquiry into its 15-year development masterplan – the Local Plan.

The scheme finds space for more than 2,000 homes on open land between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe, close to the often jammed A644 Huddersfield Road around Ravensthorpe gyratory.

A further 2,000 homes could be built on the huge site, some of which is green belt, in later years.

Plans for 4,000 homes at 'Dewsbury Riverside' between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe

Council highways officials have today said they believe the majority of the first 2,000 homes can be built without the need for any new road or significant upgrades.

But Miller Homes, which is leading the development of the plot off Ravensthorpe Road, told the inquiry it had set aside £20m towards a new road and bridge over the TransPennine rail line onto the secluded site.

A map included in the masterplan shows a bridge over the river Calder and train line off Low Mill Lane, an industrial area off Huddersfield Road.

Highways officer Tim Lawrence told the inquiry they were not yet convinced the road was the right plan.

He said the council wanted to monitor the traffic before “committing to a bridge over a live railway.”

He said improvements would be needed in the long term but said it was currently undecided if that would be a new road or just upgrades to the existing one.

The council is currently exploring a number of major A-road projects between the M62 into North Kirklees.

Plans for 4,000 homes at 'Dewsbury Riverside' between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe

Mr Lawrence added: “What we want to know is if there’s going to be public money invested into this.

“Work we have done shows a road would be beneficial to the public as congestion relief.

“But £20m is a lot to spend just providing a link road to a site.

“We’re protecting the public purse to make sure there’s value for money and it’s not just benefitting the developer.”

Cheryl Tyler from community group Save Mirfield expressed concern at the council’s roads plan.

She said: “Anyone who knows the A644 knows that already, at any time of day, particularly rush hour, it is gridlocked.

“I can’t see any consideration being given that these 2,000 dwellings are likely to produce a large number of vehicles.”

Mr Lawrence said the council would dispute the term “gridlocked” and would describe it as “busy” with “unpredictable” journey times.

Mrs Tyler responded: “To say the A644 is ‘busy’ at most, is a real understatement.

“It is gridlocked.

“I timed three journeys from Dewsbury to Ravensthorpe gyratory and it took more than 40 minutes to travel the one-and-a-half miles.

“I think that’s more than just a bit busy. I would like to know how bad it’s going to get before something is done.”

Plans for 4,000 homes at 'Dewsbury Riverside' between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe

Meanwhile, Tony Rivero from Network Rail raised concerns that Miller Homes had offered no cash for improving Ravensthorpe station – which is opposite what could become the biggest housing estate in Kirklees.

“To spend £20m on roads and nothing on rail is unfair,” he said. “This will be a development on our doorstep so it’s unfair to burden us with more passengers without offering any more.”

Miller Homes and Kirklees Council said they expected some cash to come forward during the planning application process.

The council’s request to use green belt land for some homes on the site was also raised by Planning Inspector Katie Child.

Save Mirfield hit out at the idea with Mrs Tyler claiming the council had failed to demonstrate exceptional circumstances.

She said the green belt between Mirfield and Dewsbury was already a “fragile” and “narrow” and the proposal could merge the two towns.

Save Mirfield’s planning consultant Charlotte McKay attacked the council’s justification that the houses were more needed than the countryside.

She said their explanation was “wholly inadequate” and claimed many more suitable sites had been snubbed.