Calderdale’s Local Plan as it stands would have “adverse consequences” for Brighouse, experts for a community group fighting proposals told a hearing about the plan.

Their view was rejected by Calderdale Council representatives, also speaking the the end of the first phase of hearings about the Local Plan, held before planning inspector Katie Child at Shelf Village Hall.

Representing Clifton Village Neighbourhood Forum, and with particular concerns about more than 3,000 new homes planned in two Garden Suburbs at Woodhouse and Thornhills, both near Brighouse, planning and highways consultants raised specific concerns about models used to estimate traffic flows and impacts on infrastructure, the council’s ability and funding to deliver infrastructure when it would be needed, and ultimately whether the plan was fit for purpose.

Council officers rejected the assertions, argued the modelling for the plan and finances were sound and it met national policy requirements for a Local Plan.

Nick Pleasant, from planning consultants NDL Consulting, said the plan was “fundamentally flawed” with an imbalance of new home distribution, particularly to the Brighouse area, and the Clifton group also felt there was an unjust approach to taking of green belt land.

“We think the plan is fundamentally unsound – the only remedy for that is to start again.

“The plan as its stands would have adverse consequences for Brighouse and south east Calderdale as a whole, and that needs to be addressed now,” he said.

Mr Pleasant claimed the council’s approach used dated evidence, especially in highways matters, and there was no evidence key components of the plan, especially road infrastructure, could be delivered on time, if at all.

Mike Hibbert, of transport and highways consultants TTHC Ltd, said traffic flow was a key issue with existing peak period traffic levels surveyed to provide evidence.

“Our surveys showed through many parts of the centre of Brighouse especially it is down to walking speed,” he said.

These were fundamental problems that had to be addressed before integrating large allocations like the Garden Suburbs into the plan, he added.

Mr Hibbert said Calderdale had used an older strategic transport model to prepare the Local Plan rather than the new Multi Modal Model which the authority had in preparation.

It was reliant on traffic counts, an approach which did not necessarily recognise and assimilate the conditions that existed in Brighouse, and documentation submitted to the hearing had major gaps in the technical details provided.

Transport assessments for the Garden Suburbs relied on the local authority delivering infrastructure in time, he said.

Mr Seaman said the council took issue with Mr Hibbert’s assertion that because the plan was in any way predicated on a transport evidence base it was not fit for purpose.

Transport models had been updated, self-evident in evidence already given to the hearings.

“The council is very clear the coming of a Multi Modal Model is in no way any admission existing modelling work is not fit for purpose.

“We are satisfied it is robust and proportionate,” he said.

The evidence base for the Local Plan was wholly appropriate with what was required in the National Planning Policy Framework, said Mr Seaman.

Also for the council, Richard Spensley said funders West Yorkshire Combined Authority were entirely comfortable with development of the Multi Modal Model and it would be used to refine proposals and strengthen them.

Mr Pleasant queried whether the funding figure of £52 million would be enough to fund the highways infrastructure developments around Brighouse necessary for the plan to work.

Mr Seaman said all combined authority schemes were listed and at each stage of the process funds were drawn down as they progressed. More could become available – “I would be very cautious looking at £52 million as a ceiling,” he said.

Mr Spensley said other funding sources were also in play and the council was already delivering infrastructure of this type.

The two parties also argued about the effect land which was not in the council’s control would have on the ability to deliver the garden suburbs.