Blueprint launched for 36,000 jobs and 22,000 planned homes

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FAR-REACHING proposals which will shape the employment and housing landscape of Kirklees for the next 15 years have been revealed by the three political parties.

The Labour group, which boasts most seats on the council, says its local plan will provide a framework for 36,000 jobs to be created and provision of more than 22,000 homes.

And, to the delight of campaigners, the group has ruled out highly-controversial plans to allow a massive development on one of Huddersfield’s leading beauty spots, the Grimescar Valley near Ainley Top.

In its plan, there is a proposed use of green belt land for 950 homes in south Dewsbury, which is designed to act as a catalyst for further investment on brownfield sites close to the town centre, followed by investment in infrastructure to help boost the local economy, and provide jobs.

There is no provision for housing in Chidswell at this stage, where 500 homes were planned on green belt off the A653 Leeds Road, but to the fury of residents and Dewsbury MP Simon Reevell, 35 hectares of industrial development have been retained. More than 1,000 people marched against the plans at a recent rally.

The Labour group says it wants to work with other parties to see how the employment land can be attractive to developers without the housing that can balance their investment.

Mr Reevell said he was unhappy that the industrial development was still included.

Council leader Coun Mehboob Khan said: “We have listened to views from members of the public, interest groups, employers and developers to come up with a proposal that we think reflects our future needs around jobs and homes, but which is realistic and deliverable and takes care to maintain the attractive character of Kirklees.

“Following the discussions at Cabinet earlier this month, we felt that the provision of new land for employment should be scaled back in locations where there are particular sensitivities and consequences for the environment.

“With Ainley Top, the proposal would have provided just five hectares of employment land, we have listened to those people who provided evidence around impact on transport infrastructure as well as schools and other community assets.

“But it is clear that some green belt land will have to be released if we are to attract the investment we need.

“The loss of green belt land is kept to a minimum, it is estimated that 75 per cent of the district is in green belt land and our proposals release less then one per cent of the green belt land to create jobs, opportunity and improve housing conditions.

“This plan proposes an average of just 63 new houses per year to be built in the green belt.”

The Lib Dems, who are the third largest group on the council, have submitted their plans for the Local Development Framework.

They suggest two distinct phases for housing. The first phase is for 15,436 houses. The vast majority of these houses are on sites that already have planning permission but which have yet to be developed because of the recession.

The second phase of 7,000 homes would not be included in the plan unless the housing in phase one was in the process of being developed.

They also want to give Dewsbury and Batley the chance to regenerate from within.

On Grimescar Valley they reject the proposal for development. Lib Dem leader Kath Pinnock said a rally due to be held in Huddersfield tomorrow to save the valley that “it will now be a victory parade”.

Meanwhile the Conservatives propose no use of green belt land for business and employment or housing and enterprise action zones for Leeds Road, Huddersfield and Bradford Road between Dewsbury and Batley.

The council will discuss the plans on Wednesday.