New council proposals reveal extent of 15-year building plan

51 homes to be built around land near Moor Side (New Lane in Cleckheaton). (D535B441)
51 homes to be built around land near Moor Side (New Lane in Cleckheaton). (D535B441)

Thousands of homes, new schools and industry are being planned for sites across North Kirklees.

Kirklees Council has released its new draft Local Plan, signalling hopes for 20,000 new homes be built over the next 15 years.

On average, 1,600 homes would be built each year and 10,000 have already been plotted in from the overall aim of building 30,000 homes which began about two years ago.

Dewsbury has been earmarked for some of the most ambitious developments, with major builds planned in the Ravensthorpe and Chidswell areas.

Building work in Spen, Mirfield and Batley is also included in the proposals – which would affect 200 sites across Kirklees.

Green belt land between the different towns in the district would be the main sites developed on in order to protect green space in the district’s urban areas.

But Coun Peter McBride, the responsible Cabinet member, said that 70 per cent of Kirklees’ land is green belt – and the work planned would only encroach on 1.7 per cent of that.

He said: “We’re conscious of having a balance between the need for homes and jobs and retaining green spaces and the health and wellbeing [of residents].”

The council’s last Local Development Framework was shelved two years ago after planning inspector Roland Punshon expressed doubt about whether the council had worked closely enough with neighbouring authorities.

This plan will go to Cabinet on Tuesday October 6, when members will be asked to agree to a formal consultation period with the public.

In Ravensthorpe, space for around 2,500 homes has been allocated by planners.

A new school would be created, improvements to Ravensthorpe’s railway station be made– including new platforms – and a relief road constructed to counteract congestion surrounding the A644.

About 1,500 would also be built in Chidswell, an area which mixed use proposals have been drafted for. A business park, school infrastructure and road improvments are planned.

At land to the south of Ravensthorpe Road, 2,310 homes would be allocated during the Local Plan period, with a potential for a further 1,690 homes being built after that time.

Coun McBride said: “We’ve tried in the past to do various things to lift Dewsbury. We think that money generated from this initial investment will be transferable to make a very significant difference.”

The 49,000sqm former North Bierley Waste Water Treatment Works at Cliff Hollins, Cleckheaton, is intended to be developed for employment purposes.

Around 1,704 homes would be built in Spen and 302 in Birkenshaw.

The plan includes the provisional allocation of 318 homes at Merchant Fields, Hunsworth.

The site of the former Cooper Bridge Waste Water Treatment Works and land to the west and north of the Three Nuns Pub in Leeds Road, Mirfield – comprising 161,185sqm – has also been earmaked with employment in mind.

In Batley, 458 affordable homes would be built off Soothill Lane on land which is in Kirklees Council and private ownership. Overall, 1,138 homes across 16 sites could be developed across Batley and Birstall.

In North Kirklees, 71 different sites have been earmarked for housing – which are available to view on the Kirklees Council website.

Hostility to plans for work on the district’s green land is likely is surface – and already has from some quarters. Chidswell Action Group, for example, had opposed previous plans to allocate 500 homes in the area.

On the new Local Plan, member Mark Eastwood said: “The fact that they have increased the housing numbers substantially is astonishing. But make no mistake, we will continue to fight this just as fiercely as the last time if that is what the residents of Chidswell still want.”

Conservative councillors branded the plan the biggest attack on the district’s green belt in history.

In a statement, Kirklees Conservative leader Coun Robert Light (Birstall and Birkenshaw) said: “We urge people to lodge their views on Labour’s local Plan with the Council, because this will impact on the lives of everyone in the borough for years to come.

“We believe the plan is bad for Kirklees and is not sustainable without a massive investment to overhaul the transport infrastructure of the borough.

“We will be looking at Labour’s proposals in detail and the impact that they will have in all communities across Kirklees.

“We will be closely examining their justification for their intended incursions into green belt and the increased allocation of land for housing proposals.

“In addition we will be taking note of the results of their consultation exercise with great interest.”

Baroness Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) said: “They’re trying to cram in as much housing and business in Cleckheaton as they possibly can because of links to the motorway – and that’s just unacceptable.”

Coun McBride said that whenever major developments are planned, major objections are made.

“That’s the reason we will work with communities to masterplan the way in which it will take place,” added.

And Kirklees’ planning policy manager said: “We haven’t accepted everything that we’ve had thrown at us. It’s been [drafted] through very careful exercises of analysis.”

By working with representatives of residents such as ward councillors and community groups, Coun McBride said he is hoping people will be involved in orchestrating the plans.

To find out if a site near you has been proposed for development, visit democracy.kirklees.gov.uk