Planning can be a hotly debated and contentious subject, and space for development is tight in Spen Valley. There are two "levels" of planning:
1. Planning Policy, which includes the Council's overarching "strategic" plan of what should happen in Spen Valley (as part of Kirklees).
2. Individual planning applications (over 90% of which are approved by the council).
Spen Valley Civic Society is interested mostly in the first sort, but does support or sometimes object to individual developments, depending on their appropriateness and quality. For example we objected to Tesco's plans for a superstore outside Cleckheaton town centre and argued for a central store in proportion to the town.
Currently we're inputting into the latest Kirklees-wide plan. We're worried about proposals to turn a green hillside near Hartshead, (next to the Kirklees Priory Estate) into an enormous warehousing depot. We want much-needed housing to be built on brownfield sites or close to town centres, not on our precious green belt. We want new housing to be energy-efficient and well-designed.
Planning policy is very difficult to get to grips with. The Government has tried to simplify it, though some consider its attempts have undermined the system and removed safeguards. All new development must be in accordance with a council's development plan. When planning officers are considering a planning application they look at what the Local Development Framework (LDF)says. In 2011 Kirklees published a revised Core Strategy and consulted with residents. It then made a few minor changes here and there and republished the document. Councillors agreed to ignore public protests and objections about certain Housing and Employment proposals and approved the document for submission to the Government. In 2013 it failed to meet Government Inspectors' standards for housing and co-operation with neighbouring Councils and was withdrawn, leaving Kirklees with no binding policy foundation on which to refuse applications. As a result, Provisional Open Land at Lower Blacup Farm Cleckheaton was lost to housing development. In Jan 2014 the Council decided to adapt its LDF as a Local Plan and later in 2014 invited residents to tell them what sites should be redeveloped, and what existing buildings or green spaces should be saved.
If you have concerns about buildings or derelict sites in Spen Valley, please let us know.