A public inquiry is getting underway today in which planning inspectors will be told Kirklees Council’s hopes to allow developers to build homes on Bradley Park golf course are in breach of planning law.
The huge range of legal and procedural objections to the council’s masterplan for building and development will be revealed in public over the coming months – starting today.
The public inquiry into the Local Plan was due to begin at the Hudawi Centre at 10am.
Hundreds of files are now available to read on the council’s Local Plan website.
The documents, released ahead of the examination by inspectors, reveal the competing interests of developers, land owners and action groups.
While dozens of local groups have lodged objections to the amount of homes on green fields, housing firms have criticised the plan for not allowing enough.
Major builders, including Miller Homes, Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon, Barratt, David Wilson, Younger and Strata Homes, have all submitted evidence for the inspectors to review, questioning the analysis that led to Kirklees’ estimate that 31,140 new homes were needed by 2031.
The documents also show the arguments lodged by the firm representing Kirklees’ only public golf course, Bradley Park golf.
Enzygo Environmental Consultants will tell the inspector that the council has failed to prove the course is surplus to requirements, a requirement of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
It says the only way around that is if the council was planning to create an alternative course, which it is not.
Sport England, the government quango in charge of promoting grassroots sport, has objected for the same reason.
Enzygo, run by Huddersfield based town planner David Storrie, has also highlighted numerous other concerns with the huge site off Bradley Road, which is partially in the green belt and close to the M62.
It says issues with electricity pylons, motorway noise, relocating wildlife such as deer, and a lack of progress on the roads upgrades around Bradley such as Cooper Bridge, will all delay the development of the golf course site if it was approved.
Enzygo also questions the council’s reliance on a few large green sites rather than many small ones.
Kirklees planners have said they hope 1,500 new homes could be built on the golf course site, another 4,000 on a green belt site between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe and 1,500 more at a green belt site at Chidswell.
Enzygo says this represents more than 20% of the total needed and suggests that instead of focussing on large green belt sites, planners should have opened up a larger amount of smaller sites.
It says numerous other small green belt sites were rejected purely for being green belt, which if used could have provided much needed houses far sooner.
Persimmon Homes’ statement also claims there should be a closer look at the green belt to see which sites are more sustainable.
Meanwhile, on overall housing need, several firms have claimed the 31,000 figure is too low, claiming that population growth and housing demand have been underestimated.
Barratt Homes has said about 20% more – an extra 6,000 homes – are needed if enough so-called “affordable homes” are to be included.
Strata Homes says the 31,140 figure is the “minimum requirement” while Taylor Wimpey also calls for a higher figure in case some sites take too long to get going.