Sharply contrasting views have been expressed over a controversial planning blueprint.

The first phase of hearings into Calderdale's Local Plan has been opened by Planning Inspector Katie Child at Shelf Village Hall.

Calderdale Council’s planning lead Richard Seaman told the hearing that the council had consulted widely, planned soundly and met legal requirements for economic, social and infrastructure objectives.

“It stands on firm evidence and will be found sound,” he said.

But later into the first day of the hearing, opposition leader on Calderdale Council, Coun Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) voiced the opposite view and said his Conservative group did not feel the plan provided a clear vision.

“We feel it is so fundamentally flawed we don’t see how it can meet your criteria across the board – it is neither deliverable nor effective,” he told the inspector.

Mr Seaman said the Local Plan was developed from the council’s Core Strategy set out in 2014.

As it evolved it was subject to two rounds of consultations in 2015 and 2017, workshops in 2016 and through local groups where key issues had been discussed.

Two garden suburbs at Brighouse was the council’s approach to meeting the need for new homes and in order to create modern fit-for-purpose employment space the most significant measure was the Clifton Enterprise Zone, also close to Brighouse as well as the M62, said Mr Seaman.

Mr Seaman said issues from flooding resilience to meetings with health partners to discuss infrastructure needs were all taken into account, he told the hearing.

Mr Seaman added there would no doubt be robust discussion but the council was effectively developing policy with relevant bodies.

“The strategy is positively prepared and justified, consistent with national policy,” he said.

Coun Benton, around whose ward the Garden Suburbs would bring around 3,000 new homes, said the Local Plan’s requirement for new homes could not be met without them if they were not to proceed.

“On that sort of basic provision we don’t feel the plan is sound or achieves a cohesive framework,” he said.

Issues raised on the first day of the hearing included air quality, infrastructure and spatial priorities.

Anthony Rae of Calderdale Friends of the Earth said he felt there had been a lack of computer modelling for air quality outcomes, describing the process as “weak”, a view refuted by Mr Seaman who said a proportionate evidence base had been prepared for the plan.

The Local Plan, sent to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire in January, requires the council to identify sites for around 9,500 new homes in the borough which should be developed by 2032 – previously described as the 12,600 requirement Government has asked for less sites which have already been given planning permission but have not yet been developed. After the first phase of hearings, the inspector will write to the council with her findings and a timetable will then be drawn up for the second phase.