Humiliation!

John Barraclough, Barbara Lunb, David Lumb and Sally Barraclough from Keep Roberttown and Hartshead Rural. They have 865 objections to save the green belt land in the area. (D503C245)
John Barraclough, Barbara Lunb, David Lumb and Sally Barraclough from Keep Roberttown and Hartshead Rural. They have 865 objections to save the green belt land in the area. (D503C245)

Absolute humiliation! That’s the verdict of Spen Valley Civic Society following news that Kirklees is to withdraw its controversial planning blueprint.

The Local Development Framework, to decide housing and land allocation over the next two decades, will go to a meeting of Kirklees Council on July 10 where it will be formally withdrawn.

The move comes after damning comments from the independent inspector who was appointed to scrutinise it.

But before he even began to wade through the mountain of objections he told Kirklees the plan did not contain enough housing. However his strongest criticism was that it had not consulted enough with neighbouring authorities to produce a coherent regional plan.

Civic Society chairman Max Rathmell said the inspector’s comment about not co-operating with other councils echoed what objectors had been saying all along.

And he warned that Spen’s green belt, which had been largely protected from massive housing developments in the plan, could end up being sacrificed in a new revised plan.

“The council is in a hell of a mess,” he said. “It has not done what it was supposed to. It is an absolute humiliation.

“Because the council has not now got a plan it could find itself at the mercy of developers because there is nothing to base refusal on.”

While Spen was spared huge housing developments in the LDF, it did contain plans for an industrial development the size of 100 football fields on historic land at Cooper Bridge which led to the formation of the Keep Roberttown and Hartshead Rural pressure group.

Member John Barraclough said the withdrawal now meant even more uncertainty.

“It is a major disappointment. It is a shame all these issues are not resolved,” he said.

“It is going to put the matter back and back. If it goes to public meeting we hope people who want to make their feelings known are going to be respected.”

Kirklees Cabinet member Coun Peter McBride said: “After studying the options available the best course of action looks to be the withdrawal of the core strategy and agreeing a replacement.”

Spen MP Mike Wood said the government’s “hunger” for more housing would have a direct impact on his constituents.

He said: “The council accepted our submission to the LDF arguing for areas to be protected, most notably in the built up areas of the Spen Valley. But this edict from the Coalition means these areas will now have to be re-examined to satisfy these demands.”