Too pessimistic in our fears over LDF

For what I think has been over 20 years there has now been two local development plans about housing.

The latest went out to consultation, where the council ignored their feedback, and by a change in law about two years ago, the council had to consult with cther councils. Well, they spoke to them and then ignored them.

Just like the Council has ignored all the objectors to their plan.

We are now at the Independent Inspector stage and he seems to be saying Kirklees broke the law because they did not consult with other councils. He has not even got to look at the thousands of objections yet. (Leeds may fall foul of the same objection!)

Only 189 individuals (including three MPs and four councillors from other areas) took the trouble to submit a letter or filled in the council’s document to be passed onto the Independent Inspector, and 49 of those were identical questioning whether it was legal to have development to the West of the A653 as it was not specified in the Core Strategy. However, the strategy is not site specific, though several areas were signaled out like Chidswell and Cooper Bridge.

One problem with objecting to development in the Soothill/Grange Valley area was that planning permission was granted under the previous plan.

Many of those who objected felt that even though this process has gone on for years and there has been meeting galore they had not been sufficiently consulted in that they were not aware that there was even a plan as they did not read the local papers. Whilst the council have stated they have sent details of the plan to households these had not been received. Then I had never heard our council state that Leeds planned 7,000 to 8,000 houses in the Tingley/Ardsley area....that’s adding dramatically to local congestion.

I am sure readers of this paper will be aware that the plan was was originally for 33,000 homes and a similar level of new jobs...that’s the strategy. The majority of the 189 objections are not about the need for these houses, but focus on the loss of green belt and farming land. To reduce the need for green belt land to be used the Council eventually passed the plan but with a reduced level of housing specified. The Inspector seems to be suggesting that the Council cannot do that because it is ignoring its own calculated need.

Most of the objections though were basically ‘not in my backyard objections’, but ignoring whether this aspect is valid, what was more pertinent was that throughout the areas there is no plan for more doctors, schools or how the local roads could even cope with the increased traffic that would accompany the developments, then there is constant mention that the historic heritage of some of the areas has been completely ignored.

A few people have pointed out that since 2003 the economy has changed so fundamentally that the whole plan is out of date, which would certainly be my argument.

It has also been my constant argument that their original job figures may be ‘aspirational’ but was not realistic. If jobs are not forthcoming the houses would not be required...that’s the strategic weakness of the ‘plan’ - if you could call it that. To me Kirklees’ employment looks to be contracting, not growing...another fundamental weakness.

For me, because so few people criticised the need for the housing I thought the Independent Inspector would just pass the plan, it seems I may have been too pessimistic.

DEREK CARTWRIGHT

Manor Farm Drive

Woodkirk