In her interim report on the Kirklees Local Plan, published this week, planning inspector Katie Child flags up a series of matters on which she says she has "significant concerns".
One key issue highlighted by Child relates to the deliverability of the draft plan's assumptions regarding how quickly housing sites could be delivered, "and whether the council is able to demonstrate that the housing requirement over the plan period and a five-year supply of housing land can be met".
"Based on the evidence currently before me it appears that the lead-in times for some sites are optimistic, and it is unclear whether sufficient flexibility has been allowed in the programmes to deal with aspects such as the appointment of development partners/housebuilders, environmental impact assessment work where relevant, legal contract work, negotiation of section 106 agreements and infrastructure delivery on large sites, and the preparation of reserved matters applications", she says.
Elsewhere, Child questions whether "the provision of 264 hectares of employment land over the plan period is justified, and whether exceptional circumstances for 114 hectares of green belt release have been demonstrated".
The inspector says that the issue "raises concerns regarding the coherence of the council’s employment and housing strategy, and whether there are implications for housing requirements or levels of in-commuting (and the approach to sustainable development)".
The report says that, despite her concerns, Child considers that the examination into the draft document should progress to the stage three and four hearings.
The inspector has asked Kirklees Council to provide clarity and further detailed information to support its proposals in the document by 17 November, ahead of the start of the stage three hearings in early December.