Cleckheaton planning battle campaigners: ‘Lessons can be learned’

One way traffic: Graeme Raisbeck of Cleckheaton Action Group at one of the areas of concern

Residents’ concerns about a controversial planning development remain now it is under way - but they also hope other groups opposing similar planning projects will benefit from their experience.

Cleckheaton Action Group members opposed Strata Homes’ 39-home development at land off New Lane, Cleckheaton, mainly on two fronts, the loss of green space and issues with access to the site. Kirklees Council originally refused permission but on appeal Planning Inspector Matthew Nunn allowed the development.

CAG member Graeme Raisbeck has officially complained about the decision to the inspectorate, asking for issues to be investigated.

He says the group’s opinion that the February 2017 appeal decision did not give sufficient weighting to the protection of green spaces has subsequently been backed up by a Supreme Court ruling in May 2017, Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes, which said green space protection policies, however long ago they may have been formulated, are not out of date and are independent of homes policies. Prior to that courts held that a policy relevant to the supply of housing included those which also constrained or affected housing and other elements interpreted as carrying more weight.

Mr Raisbeck’s letter also complains Kirklees Council is not discharging conditions 15 and 16 relating to highway safety concerns at the access junctions for the site at New Lane and Pearson Street correctly. Concerns are still extant, he says, including in the case of Moorside/Pearson Street because cars belonging to home-owners parked on a street of terraced homes with no driveway parking (they are in council-marked bays) means drivers have to “nose out” to try and exit safely.

In the case of New Lane, the road itself is so narrow that traffic often finds itself over the centre line and often lines of traffic were converging on each other in the same space, a highways situation now complicated by the addition of the new junction with the new homes site.

“We are hoping our experience has helped in some way to some other people, on green space, and thinking about safety aspects,” he said.

A Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “Following an application we discharged a number of planning conditions on 12 September 2017. In relation to condition 15 there is no hierarchy or requirement to discharge each part in a specified order.

“We are aware of Mr Raisbeck’s past concerns and responded to these in June 2017 advising him of his option to progress them to the Local Government Ombudsman if he remained dissatisfied.

“He has since raised other concerns and officers are considering these, and will review whether any additional information is outstanding and reply to Mr Raisbeck as appropriate.”

A Planning Inspectorate spokesperson said: “We are sorry Mr Raisbeck has not received a reply to his complaint as quickly as we would like. We aim is to reply to 80 per cent of all correspondence within 20 working days. “We value feedback from our customers and seek to reply to them as soon as possible but sometimes this is not possible when we need to seek information from other organisations or people. Mr Raisbeck will receive a reply from us soon.”

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