Kirklees Council has defended its Local Plan consultation and revealed thousands of people have viewed the plans online.

There has been criticism that it is too difficult for people to look at the plans and voice their concerns.

Comments can only be made by registering a user name and password on the Kirklees Council website.

A planning expert has admitted even he can’t get his head around it.

David Storrie, a Huddersfield based town planner with 40 years experience, made the admission amid growing complaints from the public that the system is too tricky to use.

Campaign groups have also raised fears that the Local Plan website is too technical for most people to understand.

Mr Storrie, who began his planning career at Kirklees Council in 1975, said: “I have to agree it is not easy to interpret the plans online or even from downloading and I am used to reading plans! Given the importance of this plan it should be easier to view.”

David Storrie
David Storrie

Robert Bamforth, of Kirklees Community Action Network (KCAN), said: “It’s almost impossible to use. Why on earth do we have to go through all the rigmarole of being registered on their system?”

The council launched its Local Plan public consultation on November 9 at

The site features details of the 200 sites it hopes to offer developers for housing and industry until 2031 and more than 800 others it has rejected.

The council says it must build 29,000 homes and has included large green sites in its blueprint in Huddersfield, Ravensthorpe and Dewsbury.

There have been concerns about plans to build 2,000 homes on Bradley Park Golf Course and about housing plans for many areas including Netherthong, Netherton and Golcar.

Bradley Park Golf Course.

Residents are encouraged to go online to view and comment on the masterplan for the next 15 years before December 21.

But they are confronted with reams of documents and a complex planning system showing every intricate detail of the Local Plan.

The Examiner asked the council’s Local Plan team to respond to the complaints - see their response below.

Why do people have to register on the Kirklees website to comment on the plan?

All comments made using the system have to moderated in case they contain offensive or inappropriate comments. They are made available for other people to see because we are aiming to be transparent as possible with the consultation. We have also received significant comments already by post and email and the council will be transferring these comments to the on-line system.

People are saying they can’t fathom the website and aren’t being given the chance to talk to planners as there are only two consultation sessions?

The way in which the council is consulting was agreed at a Cabinet meeting on October 6. A full schedule of the proposed consultation activity was presented at that meeting. This includes: a summary leaflet (over 10,000 produced and placed in locations all over Kirklees), direct letters to over 6,000 groups/residents on our consultation database, press releases and statutory notices in the local press, online publicity campaigns using the council’s website and social media, focus groups, information in Kirklees Together and posters.

Kirklees Council
Kirklees Council

Councillors are setting up some community meetings, but they are not experts on the plan?

Unfortunately we don’t have sufficient staff resources to attend ward and/or community group meetings. The cumulative effect to attend all the meeting requests we are receiving means we cannot resource this. For that reason and in consultation with politicians who will lead their meetings, a decision has been taken to attend none. We are more than willing to provide either a short response/briefing on individual site options at request by post, email or over the phone or have short meetings with interested parties by appointment.

Why isn’t Kirklees footing the bill for community meetings about the local plan?

We have published the consultation plan, which was agreed by Cabinet members. The council has paid for all the consultation materials and complete sets of information for councillors.

The website for consultation is too complicated and technical and people are unhappy with having to register and create a password. Why is this necessary?

Registration is simple and the system includes help information to assist. It is no more complicated than ordering other goods and services online. Documents can be viewed without logging in or registering, but just like an email or sending a letter we need a name, postal address or email address to acknowledge their comments, to contact them about the next steps in the plan process.

The feeling is the council is discouraging written or emailed submissions: Is this true?

No. We prefer the use of the online system as it allows comments to be made on-line, at any time of day and has the advantage that once registered customers can receive automatic notifications of future consultations and choose which types of documents they wish to be consulted on.

Can the council explain how they reached the figure of 29,000 homes?

This evidence is set out in our Strategic Housing Market Assessment and in our housing background evidence. Both of which can be viewed on our webpages ( under the ‘Housing’ heading).

Has enough allowance been given to brownfield ‘windfalls’ which historically have made up a large proportion of the plots available for housing in Kirklees, rather than an over-allocation of green field sites, which if they make it into the Local Plan, won’t be able to revert back?

We have been open and transparent about the amount of brownfield land which can accommodate new development over the plan period. We have made all our information on accepted and rejected site options available for the public to view and comment on, which includes all the brownfield sites which have been put forward to the council as options.