Batley fields could be swamped by up to 400 new homes

Batley fields could be swamped by up to 400 new homes

A CAMPAIGNER is resigned to losing more than 12 hectares of green fields in Batley to a massive housing development.

Habib Dadhiwala, chairman of the Soothill Community Association, spoke out after plans to build up to 404 new homes on land near Lydgate Junior and Infants School were revealed.

An area of 12.8 hectares off Soothill Lane, to the side and below the school, has been earmarked for housing.

Parsons Brinckerhoff were appointed by Kirklees Council to apply for outline planning permission for the scheme. It was revealed when the firm delivered pre-application consultation details to residents.

Mr Dadhiwala believes no amount of protesting or petition signatures will stop the plan if Kirklees want the homes.

His view was formed after the association failed to stop a development on the site of the former Soothill cricket club.

Work on 38 new homes there  stopped in May after contractor Southdale Ltd, acting for developer Yorkshire Housing, went bust.

The social housing firm has since appointed Starfish Construction to continue the work.

Mr Dadhiwala said: “All along they (Kirklees) were stringing us along, when they knew what decision they were going to make.

“Kirklees set out five years ago that they need ‘X’ number of new houses, so we all knew this was coming.

“The only question was where are they going to go – and it turns out to be green space.”

He added of the latest project: “I think it’s out of our hands. If they (Kirklees) want it to go ahead, then it’ll go ahead.

“As a group we’ll fight tooth and nail to save community assets but I think land is out of our control.

“I don’t think a petition or protesting will do much good. The decision that will be made will be made from above.”

He highlighted traffic on Soothill Lane and lack of places at the school as potential objections.

And Mr Dadhiwala suggested Kirklees should improve social housing on Cardigan Close before seeking new homes elsewhere.

He said: “Those flats aren’t child-friendly. They’re only suitable for those who don’t have children.

“Why spend £20m or whatever on new properties when you could do up what you’ve already got for £20,000?”

Details delivered to residents state the land is for housing in the council’s Unitary Development Plan.

The number, type and size of homes and site layout is yet to be decided, though an assessment showed the site can take up to 404 dwellings.

It is also not clear from the documents if the housing would be for sale or rent.

Helen Bailey, for Parsons Brinckerhoff, said whether the homes would be social housing, private or a mix of both has not been decided.

She added the company would act as the agent for Kirklees Council on any planning bid.

The project is “a work in progress” and Parsons Brinckerhoff want residents to offer comment.

Vera Mackin, of nearby Bridle Street, Soothill, said: “It’s always sad to lose green space but the other side of the coin is people need homes.

“All I would say is the extra traffic on Soothill Lane could be a problem and you wonder about school places.”

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “Planning consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff, acting on behalf of the council, are currently undertaking consultation with the public prior to the submission of an outline planning application for residential development on a site at Soothill, Batley.

“It is anticipated that the planning application will be submitted in August 2015.

“New homes are required to support economic growth and meet the needs of a growing population across the district.”

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