The inspector reviewing Kirklees Council’s development masterplan has fired a shot across the planning chiefs’ bow.

Government appointed inspector Katie Child has raised a number of “significant concerns” about Kirklees’ Local Plan – its blueprint for housing and employment sites until 2031.

The plan bids to identify where developers can build with Kirklees creating controversy by earmarking large swathes of green belt and the whole of Bradley Park golf club as sites for homes.

Now, with the first of four phases of public hearings complete, the inspector has highlighted a number of problems with the Local Plan.

A Kirklees Council illustration of proposed new housing on the site of the Bradley Park Golf Course at Bradley.

Fears the public inquiry was to be halted were raised by campaign groups last week, bringing back memories of Kirklees Council’s doomed 2013 attempt, the Local Development Framework (LDF).

The inspector has said she will carry on as scheduled but demanded more work be done by the council to address her worries.

She has also called into question whether Kirklees can deliver the 31,140 houses required in time, describing planning officers’ proposals as “optimistic”.

On the distribution of development sites across the borough she has commented that it is “difficult to understand” why the ‘Kirklees Rural’ area had very few areas for growth identified. The Kirklees Rural area includes the Colne Valley, Holme Valley and the wider Denby Dale area.

On the employment land supply she has said it is not clear why the council is seeking to create 264 hectares of sites, 114 of which are on the green belt, when only 175 hectares are needed.

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She has also criticised the lack of information about development and retail growth in Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centres; the council’s approach to creating “safeguarded land” – sites that cannot be built on; the so-called Urban Green Spaces and the sites in the green belt itself.

In her letter to Kirklees Local Plan chief Richard Hollinson she says: “Although I have a number of outstanding concerns I consider the examination should progress. I would emphasise this is not a guarantee that the plan will ultimately be found sound.”

Clr Peter McBride, Lead Member for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “We are confident that we have been able to substantiate and agree many of the legal and technical issues required.

Clr Peter McBride

“We have been impressed by the level of representations from individuals and groups who have attended and feel that the complex and probing questions and discussions our proposals have been subject to should reassure all concerned of the robustness of the inspector’s examination.

“There is further work to do now to provide responses to the matters raised but this is entirely normal and we are pleased she has given us the green light to prepare for the later stages.”

Stage two of the examination of the Local Plan dealing with minerals and waste will begin on Tuesday, November 14 at the Hudawi Centre on Great Northern Street near Huddersfield town centre.

A draft timetable for the hearings will shortly be published on the council website