Rams unveil housing plans at Shaw Cross site

Issue 511

PLANS for a huge residential development on land next to Dewsbury Rams’ Tetley’s Stadium have been unveiled.
The rugby league club have entered into a partnership with property developers Stirling Scotfield to potentially build more than 200 houses and a 60bed care home on the disused former tip and colliery site between Owl Lane and Wakefield Road.
A public consultation process begins today (Fri) as the Rams and Stirling Scotfield aim to gauge public opinion about the venture.
A ‘masterplan’ was submitted to Kirklees Council in November, which must be approved by officials before any planning application can be formally submitted.
As well as the 200plus homes eight acres of community spaces are planned, with extensive landscaping around the edges of the development. The proposals can be viewed at www.dewsburyramsdevelopment.co.uk.
They include:

Two new MultiUse Games Area (MUGA) pitches;
A floodlit replacement training pitch and junior rugby pitch;
A new 334space car park;
Highways improvements;
A linear park, play areas and nature trail.

A small part of the development would back on to existing homes on Bywell Close, with a new access road out onto Wakefield Road also being created. Despite its industrial background the land is classed as green belt – and the developers will have to show there are ‘special circumstances’ in order to get the goahead.
Much of the land was effectively handed to the Rams on a rentfree 999year lease from Kirklees Council when the club moved to the site in 1993.
The development would mean “significant investment” for the Rams as well as giving them extra income from renting out the new pitches to local sports teams.
The new car park would also mean that the moneyspinning Sunday morning car boot sales would continue.
The club say the project would help them to thrive on and off the field, giving them a guaranteed income for the next decade and allowing their schools and community work to continue.
Seven thousand leaflets are due to be distributed around the Dewsbury East ward next week outlining the proposals and asking for feedback, while a presentation to the Rams’ members and season ticket holders will be held at the club on February 20.
There will also be two public dropin sessions, on Monday February 27 from 1.30pm to 4.30pm at Dewsbury Town Hall and on Wednesday February 29 from 9.30am to 12.30pm at Hanging Heaton Cricket Club.
Rams chairman Mark Sawyer said: “I believe these proposals represent a once in a lifetime opportunity for the rugby club to develop the land next to our stadium and bring muchneeded benefits to our club and local community.
“These proposals bring significant financial investment into the club and its community work, which will mean a longterm sustainable future for the Rams.
“Our supporters and the people of Dewsbury now have an opportunity to get behind us and make this happen.
“It’s all about making the whole setup sustainable and utilising the entire site, which we have been looking to do for 15 years.
Mr Sawyer was keen to stress that the proposals are not set in stone and that both the Rams and the developer genuinely want to hear the views of residents before they proceed.
A spokesman for Stirling Scotfield said: “We have worked with Dewsbury Rams for the last four years to bring together a proposal that will benefit both the rugby club and the local community.
“We hope our proposals can gain support from both the local authority and local people in Dewsbury.
“We hope Kirklees Council will give their approval to the masterplan proposals so we can proceed and submit a planning application later in the year.”
Rams fans have already formed an official Development Supporters Group to back the plans and a petition is due to be circulated asking residents to show their support once they have viewed the full proposals.
A decision from Kirklees on the initial masterplan is due by the end of May, and if they view it favourably, a planning application could be submitted this summer.
Ward councillor Paul Kane said that the initial impetus for the public consultation had come from Dewsbury East’s three Labour members and added: “We welcome what people have to say and we’ll listen to all the feedback that we receive. I’d encourage everyone to make their views known.”
Coun Cathy Scott said that people needed to be made aware that the development is in green belt land and added that councillors would take on board all points of view from across the ward.
A sideeffect if 200 new homes are built on the Rams’ land could be the easing of pressure to develop the controversial Chidswell green belt site.
Chidswell Action Group, which is fighting Kirklees plans to allow 500 new homes and 35 hectares of industry in the area under LDF proposals, were made aware of the Rams’ outline scheme in December 2011, but without knowing any of the details. Both the club and the action group say that both issues will remain entirely separate.

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