Kirklees Council to withdraw LDF plans

LDF WOES Chidswell Action Group spoke out against development on green belt land.
LDF WOES Chidswell Action Group spoke out against development on green belt land.

Councillors have voted to withdraw the council’s controversial plan to build thousands of new homes.

The submitted plan, which outlined 22,470 new homes and the release of 122 hectares of land for business use across Kirklees by 2028, included 500 homes and 35 hectares of business land in Chidswell.

It was submitted to secretary of state for Communities, MP Eric Pickles. in April, who appointed a planning inspector to examine the plans.

But independent planning inspector Roland Punshon raised a number of concerns, including use of green belt land, housing numbers and whether Kirklees had worked closely enough with neighbouring authorities.

He wrote to the council suggesting they withdraw the plans.

At the meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall, council leader Mehboob Khan (Lab, Greenhead) said the council had no option but withdraw the core strategy.

He said: “Withdrawing means we can proceed forwards by carefully taking into account the comments made by the planning inspector and make changes to the core strategy proposal to address them.”

He said the revised plans would be put out to a public consultation.

Conservative leader Coun Robert Light (Birstall and Birkenshaw) said the submitted plans were a disgrace.

“You put forward a plan and its turned out to be a complete mess.

“Four and a half years, that’s how long its taken to screw this up for Kirklees people.”

He added: “We will live with your incompetence for decades to come and will suffer from the fact you couldn’t sort it out.”

Kirklees Council considers the Chidswell area to mean either side of Leeds Road in this case, putting green belt land in Soothill at risk.

Green belt land in Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury and Cooper Bridge, Mirfield would also be sacrificed for development under the original LDF plan.

But Liberal Democrat leader Kath Pinnock (Cleckheaton) said that Conservative proposals contained a smaller housing proposal than the submitted plan, which was criticised in part for not having a large enough housing figure.

She said: “None of us want to lose our green fields, none of us want to lose our green belt.

“But I suggest to you that all of us want homes for people to live in and businesses to help people prosper. That’s what we want.”

Coun Pinnock called for Conservative plans to be submitted to the planning inspectorate.

After a meeting in private with party leaders and council officers, Coun Khan said that the Conservative plan will be examined by the Cabinet and sent to secretary of state for Communities, MP Eric Pickles, for consideration, while Kirklees Council draw up a new core strategy.

In the final vote on council officers’ recommendation to withdraw the plans, 27 councillors voted for withdrawal, 23 voted against and 10 abstained.

The council will now prepare a revised core strategy.