An independent planning inspector has recommended that Kirklees Council withdraws its controversial plans for homes and job creation.
Kirklees Council met inspector Roland Punshon last month to look at issues of concern surrounding its Local Development Framework (LDF). The plans set out where the council believed 22,470 homes could be built and 122 hectares of land could be released for business use by 2028.
Mr Punshon was appointed by the independent Planning Inspectorate in April to review the proposal and decide whether it should be approved. But he raised a number of concerns, including the use of greenbelt land, the overall housing numbers and whether Kirklees had worked closely enough with neighbouring authorities. He suggested the council consider withdrawing its plan, but the council opted for an exploratory meeting into the issues raised.
Today (Thursday) Mr Punshon wrote to the council with his conclusions from the meeting.
He said the additional evidence given had not persuaded him that the duty to co-operate had been satisfied.
During the meeting, the council said it planned to review its housing strategy.
Mr Punshon said: “It is possible that any modifications to the core strategy which are necessitated by the re-appraisal exercise could be so extensive that they would amount to a re-writing of the document.
“I consider that the best course of action would be to withdraw the current core strategy, undertake the re-appraisal exercise taking account of the strategic context and re-submit the document in 2014.”
Kirklees Council will now consider whether to withdraw the core strategy.
Coun Peter McBride, Cabinet member for investment and regeneration, said: “Mr Punshon has made his view clear that we have not done enough to satisfy the duty to co-operate with neighbouring councils. He acknowledges that we have been involved in what he calls a `meaningful co-operative process’ but does not feel that that was sufficient.
“The inspector acknowledges that the issue of housing needs and the housing market in Kirklees is complex, and he supports our commitment to re-assess our approach. We indicated that this could be completed by March, but Mr Punshon is concerned that after completion of this review he might still be unable to accept changes because they would amount to a very different plan and we would need to go to consultation.
“We will discuss the implications of this letter further before deciding our course of action. It would be wrong to rush into a decision – either to go ahead to a hearing of the current plan or to withdraw this plan – as this issue is too important. The only way we can protect the green areas we want to keep, encourage the business generation that is vital to our local economy, and identify the homes we need to keep Kirklees an attractive place to live, is to have a framework in place.”