Calderdale campaigners sceptical over planning inspector's comments over Local Plan

Campaigners in part of Calderdale are sceptical that comments by an inspector overseeing the district’s draft Local Plan mean it is closer to being adopted.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 31st March 2022, 7:00 am

Last week Planning inspector Katie Child wrote to the council saying consultation on some of the main modifications she has requested the council makes has not yet taken place.

But, she wrote: “Overall, I consider that, subject to main modifications, the Plan is likely to be capable of being found legally compliant and sound.”

The news was hailed a major milestone by senior councillor Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, who said it meant the council is “a major step closer to the final adoption of the Local Plan, which will make sure that we are able to manage development in Calderdale effectively over the next few years.

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Woodhouse Gardens in Brighouse

“We particularly welcome her finding that the council’s overall proposals were based on sound evidence.”

But Clifton Village Neighbourhood Forum (CVNF), which opposes the proposals particularly plans to create two Garden Suburbs at Thornhills and Woodhouse, both near Brighouse, have interpreted the Inspector’s letter as meaning the plan is still “unsound”.

In a statement it says: “It is deeply concerning that there is still a significant amount of work to complete before the Inspector will be in a position to make a recommendation as to whether or not what would be a much changed plan can be sound and legally compliant.”

The forum said Ms Child’s letter added more main modifications which she said would be needed in addition to 180 already required.

The forum argues that contrary to the council’s claims, “there is nothing within the Inspector’s letter which says she has found the ‘overall proposals were based on sound evidence’, whilst the substantial list of main modifications means the Plan still requires fundamental work if it is to have a chance of complying with national planning regulations.”

Additionally, the forum calls on the council to finally publish the missing evidence on infrastructure, viability and deliverability which it claims should have been provided and available for comment when the Local Plan was submitted, not several years later.

“The suggestion that publication of the final report will enable the council to adopt the Local Plan clearly presupposes and pre-judges the content of the Inspector’s report,” says the forum.

CVNF says it will continue to be an active participant in this process and give more information in a forthcoming public meeting.

The Government says all local authorities have to produce a Local Plan and it appoints Inspectors to oversee the examination process, with the power to decide whether plans are “sound” and legally compliant.

The Garden Suburb proposals could see 3,000 new homes build near Brighouse if the plan is approved, though sites earmarked in it will still have to go through the regular planning process.

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