‘Planners let us down’

KIRKLEES planners have come under fire for not taking action over Bradford Council’s proposals to build 2,200 new homes and a major link road on the East Bierley border.

Birkenshaw Tory councillors Andrew Palfreeman, Liz Smaje and Robert Light condemned them for failing to respond to Bradford Council’s proposals to build the homes and road next to the Kirklees border.

Last autumn Bradford Council published plans to build another 300 houses on the Holme Wood council estate which they would fund by releasing a large area of green belt land for another 1,900 private houses, behind Tong High School.

The scheme, part of the council’s land-use plan for the next 15 years, would take in Westgate Hill and go as far as Tong Lane and there would also be a new major link road from the roundabout at the end of the Drighlington by-pass, through Tong to Tyersal.

The Birkenshaw councillors worked with a Tong residents’ group to oppose the plans and asked Kirklees planners to lodge a formal objection on behalf of residents in November, but they failed to do so.

Coun Andrew Palfreeman said: “I am totally amazed that Kirklees planners were not aware of Bradford’s plans and the effect that they would have on the north of our ward. They were alerted in November last year and have admitted that they did nothing. What’s the point of having local councillors who identify issues affecting their ward if officers just ignore everything they are told?

“This is a serious issue for our ward but it also raises some vital questions. Aren’t council officers employed to serve local residents and those who represent them? Clearly that’s not the case here.

“What we have are planners who don’t appreciate local communities. In some cases I doubt they even know that places well away from their desks in Huddersfield are actually in Kirklees.”

The councillors say the plans would put pressure on doctors, schools, roads and local services in East Bierley and Birkenshaw, and the new link road would ‘not only blight a wonderful valley but be absolutely useless’ because nobody would want to go to Bradford through Tyersal.

Coun Palfreeman said they had met a planning officer who admitted they had overlooked the plans, but said that they would submit an objection before last week’s deadline.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “Neighbouring authorities’ planning proposals don’t always have an impact on our district, therefore it’s not an automatic process that we would comment on them.”