Huddersfield Civic Society Response to Draft Local Plan
Strategy and Policies.
The Society asks for the retention of UDP Policy BE11 in the Local Plan. The DLP on page 114 (10.1.2) is wrong to state that the NPPF advises against stipulations such as that requiring stone to be used in certain locations as conditioned by BE11. The Civic Society lobbied hard to include materials as one of the NPPF design policy criteria and the government acceded to our request in section 7 “Requiring Good Design”.
Paragraph 58 subsection 4: “Local plans should respond to local character and history and reflect the identity of local surroundings and materials ………..”
Paragraph 59: “Design Policies should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout, materials and access for new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally”
Paragraph 60: “Planning policies and decisions should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and shouldn’t stifle innovation through unsubstantiated requirements to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness”
The stipulation for the use of stone is clearly NOT contrary to the advice in national policy and UDP Policy BE11 should be retained in DLP 25 Design to preserve local identity and distinctiveness. Huddersfield is a stone town as much as Aberdeen is a granite city; the Cotswolds is a limestone area and Norfolk is a flint county.
Balance of Development Between Greenfield and Urban Sites
The Plan lacks a vision for urban regeneration .The Society is disappointed that so much Green Belt and green field land is included for development in the DLP, particularly for housing. Kirklees has an excellent record in the re-use of previously developed land but there is insufficient emphasis on this in the DLP. We would have welcomed sites such as those adjacent to the town centre which previously housed the technical college and the sports centre to be allocated for high density housing. This would act as an alternative to the use of green belt and green land sites elsewhere in the DLP.
The Preservation of Castle Hill and its Setting
The Society welcomes DLP 36f which seeks to “preserve the setting of Castle Hill and proposals which detrimentally impact on the setting of Castle Hill will not be permitted”.
To this end we support the inclusion of site AGB 2074 in the green belt. This would preserve the setting of the hill from the North. We also endorse the refusal to allow house building on sites H111 and H677 (land south of New Laithe Hill, Newsome and west of Hall Bower Lane respectively). The rejection of housing sites in Almondbury (H15; H255) and Fenay Bridge (H256; H257; H227; H499; H189; H188) should maintain the openness of Castle Hill’s setting from the South and East as should the rejection of SGI 2109 from the Strategic Green Infrastructure. Had any of these sites been accepted for development the whole of the green belt between Almondbury, Lepton and Kirkburton would have been destroyed. To preserve the setting of Castle Hill from the South West we endorse the rejection of housing sites in Farnley Tyas (H250; H251; H252; H253; H254).
Strategic Green Infrastructure
The Society is very concerned at the inclusion of Castle Hill in the proposed SGI. The hill is already afforded protection by its Green Belt and Scheduled Ancient Monument status. The vague policies* accompanying the SGI proposal could have the unintended consequence of watering down the existing protections enjoyed by the hill. To assume that the SGI would not require buildings and parking facilities is naïve and could expose Castle Hill to significant risk. The promoters of the Country Park scheme are already pressing for the release of green belt land, not included in the DLP, for house building to finance its construction. This is a significant augury of future demands should the supporting policies for the SGI be permitted.
*Imprecise Policies accompanying the SGI
1. To promote opportunities for greater access for education, health, leisure, recreation sport and tourism.
2. To improve the image of Kirklees as a place to invest, live, work and visit.
Any developer would pounce on these nebulous policies in demands for new buildings and infrastructure in an attempt to circumvent the existing protections affecting Castle hill and its setting.
Frank O'Brien 19 January 2016