A CAMPAIGNER concerned about aspects of Calderdale’s draft Local Plan has quizzed the council’s leader over economic growth targets which would mean more homes needing to be built.

The second phase of hearings, conducted by Planning Inspector Katie Child, into Calderdale’s Local Plan are set to begin on October 6.

In the public question time at the start of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet meeting, Calderdale Friends of the Earth campaigner Anthony Rae addressed his question about the issue to Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town).

Mr Rae asked Coun Swift if he could explain why the council was going into the phase two hearings promoting a “spurious” employment growth target, given the council’s strategic priority of building a sustainable future.

The target was unnecessary in that Calderdale’s working age population is now falling, and so would necessitate bringing around 19,000 people to come and live in Calderdale to do the work, argued Mr Rae.

Calderdale Councillors raise concerns over shake up in planning law

Mr Rae said this would have consequences for green belt to build around 15,000 new homes for the “theoretical” new workers.

Under the Government’s new planning proposals these areas might be labelled “growth zones” and be outside the council’s control, he said.

“Can the leader of the council explain why the council is deliberately planning to embed these completely unsustainable approaches from the past into what has to be the plan for Calderdale’s sustainable future?” said Mr Rae.

Coun Swift said he would provide a full written answer but also wanted to respond briefly.

“I don’t agree with the interpretation but on some of the points in there, particularly the suggestion that some details of the plan are inconsistent with, for example, West Yorkshire’s statement of common ground which has been drawn up to take into account Local Plans of local authorities,” he said.

Coun Swift also contested the statement that 15,000 new homes would be in the green belt – only a proportion would be in the green belt.

In terms of profound consequences the questioner claimed would result from the Local Plan. Coun Swift said: “I would want to say these were his interpretations of impacts of the plan, which would be contested.”

Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, said the inquiry would test assumptions made in the Local Plan with hearings expected to sit over a number of weeks to do exactly that.

“We want our children and grandchildren to be able to find homes in this borough and I think post COVID we want people to come and live in Calderdale to fill the primary schools and shop in the shops,” she said.