Thousands of objections have failed to change the mind of councillors and officials in charge of Kirklees’ controversial housing master plan, the Examiner can reveal.
Despite huge opposition, all four of the major controversial proposals have made it onto the second draft which is likely to be submitted for government approval early next year.
They are: 2,300 homes on and around what is now Bradley Park Golf Course, 2,500 homes on fields between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe, 800 at Crosland Hill, and 1,500 homes at the Chidswell beauty spot in east Dewsbury.
But the contentious Farnley Country Park idea appears to be dead in the water as it has not been included.
The Local Plan – the council’s blueprint for homes and industrial development until 2031 – was shown to the public at the end of 2015.
The council has revealed that more than 11,000 objections were lodged about the 200 proposed sites during the consultation between November and February this year.
Clr Peter McBride, Cabinet member for Regeneration, said the plan aimed to balance the future need for economic growth and the right mix of homes against the need to manage the green belt and local infrastructure.
He said housing sites had been chosen where new roads, schools and health centres had a better chance of being created.
“Having a Local Plan in place is not a choice,” said Clr McBride. “The government tells us we have to have this and the planning inspectorate will decide whether our plan is sound. So our process has to be based on evidence and not politics.
“In drafting our plan the way we have we have actually increased the amount of urban greenspace.”
What is the Local Plan?
All councils must have a blueprint of where developers can build in a bid to construct enough housing and sites for industry. The government dictates the number of houses and sites needed and leaves it to councils to come up with a master plan.
Why is this happening now?
Kirklees Council’s last attempt at a planning blueprint, the Local Development Framework (LDF), was thrown out by the planning inspectorate for not being sufficiently thorough. The result has been that developers have had more of a chance at building on unsuitable sites as there was no master plan for guidance.
How many homes are needed?
The government has told Kirklees to build 31,000 new homes by 2031. About 10,000 are in the pipeline already, meaning the new plan needs space for about 21,000. A number of large industrial sites are also included.
Where is at threat?
About 200 sites across Kirklees are proposed with a further 800 or so being rejected by planners.
Bradley Park Golf Course
The most controversial of all 200 housing sites in the Local Plan. If approved, Kirklees’ only public golf course could be ripped up to make way for 2,300 homes, pending the usual planning policy guidelines. The council says new schools, health centres and roads would be built to cope with the expansion. There are also plans to build a new slip road from the M62 adjacent to the site up to Bradley Bar roundabout.
Technically in Thornhill Lees, council planners say this plot to the south east of Mirfield off Ravensthorpe Road could hold 4,000 homes.
It is hoped it would revive the run down Ravensthorpe area with plans to revamp the train station also mooted. Long term plans to build a link road dubbed the North Kirklees Orbital, between the M62 and the M1, could also rejuvinate the area.
Sites off both sides of Blackmoorfoot Road have been earmarked for housing and business use, including a large plot opposite Crosland Heath golf course around the former Standard Fireworks premises. It is thought at least 800 homes could be built across the various plots in the area.
A large green space to the east of Leeds Road in north east Dewsbury, Chidswell has been approved as a mixed use plot. Planning officials say it could host 1,500 homes and a large business park. It has been chosen for its strategic location, close to the M1, M62 and major routes into Leeds and Wakefield.
What’s been scrapped?
The Farnley Country Park plan won’t be going ahead after it was axed from the Local Plan. The park hoped to mimic Forestry Commission facilities with marked walks, cycle paths and tree top activities. A visitor centre and other leisure and educational facilities would have been created around a hub based off the busy Penistone Road at Fenay Bridge.
John Sykes, director of Farnley Estates, said: “We’re obviously disappointed that the plans we submitted for the Farnley Country Park have not been included in the revised Local Plan. For now, this news also brings to an end our vision of opening up green space with health, leisure, education and employment opportunities for the people of Huddersfield and for visitors to our beautiful area from further afield.”
What happens next?
Senior councillors are set to recommend the plan to be voted on by all 69 members of Kirklees Council. Last year a debate about the Local Plan saw angry scenes as councillors argued about the locations. The extraordinary meeting will take place from 3pm on Wednesday, October 12 at Huddersfield Town Hall.
Members of the public are able to attend and it is expected that a significant number of protesters will make deputations to the council. If the vote is passed, the Local Plan will be submitted to the government and planning inspectorate for approval and could be implemented in early 2018. A second public consultation will be launched on Monday, November 7.
Members of the public who want to speak at the meeting of full council will need to register to speak, and should contact firstname.lastname@example.org before 4pm on Friday, October 7.
The meeting will be webcast on the Kirklees Council website www.kirklees.gov.uk