CAMPAIGNERS in Mirfield have come out fighting in opposition to plans for more than 130 new homes.
Protest group Save Mirfield has re-formed to again challenge proposals for the Balderstone fields off Hepworth Lane.
Developer Bellway Homes, who had a scheme thrown out 14 years ago, want to build 136 properties.
A meeting at the Flying Shuttle pub on Monday saw more than £150 raised for Save Mirfield’s campaign.
It was held as Bellway Homes hosted a public event at Northorpe Hall which attracted more than 300 people.
Keith Andrews, of Save Mirfield, vowed: “If Bellway Homes want a fight they’ll certainly get one.
“If I was the MD of Bellway Homes in Gateshead I’d be very careful about getting involved in Mirfield.”
He added the town’s infrastructure cannot cope with more homes but said: “We live in the real world. It’s not ‘no’ to all development. But it’s got to be in the right place and has to match the infrastructure we have.
“That infrastructure is creaking. Our schools, dentists and roads are full and over the summer the town had sewerage problems.
“Can you imagine what’ll happen when even more homes are connected to that network?”
Bellway’s event showed new planning laws may have influenced their decision to come back to Mirfield.
The Government’s 2012 National Planning Policy Framework is believed to make matters easier for developers.
It does though clash with the 2011 Localism Act, which gives residents a bigger say in what is built in their areas.
Kirklees and Mirfield town councillors are to be briefed on how this may affect Bellway’s chances.
Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Batteyford) said: “I’ve asked planning officers for guidance on what’s changed.
“If things have changed we need to be in a position to offer advice to residents on how they can proceed.”
Complicating matters is Kirklees Council have a Unitary Development Plan (UDP) considered out of date but which is still in force.
Its replacement, the Local Development Framework (LDF), was axed after criticism from a Government planning inspector.
Mr Andrews said: “Kirklees did a very poor job with the LDF and the reward for Mirfield is for Bellway Homes to come back and exploit the situation.”
In a rebuke to Kirklees he added: “When we’ve tried to talk to them about infrastructure they’ve not listened.
“There are ways to deal with traffic and other issues, but Kirklees don’t seem to want to know.
“They tried to build on the Batteyford playing fields and wanted to shut both the Castle Hall and Old Bank schools.
“When you think of how things have gone, particularly the demand for school places, what own goals they would’ve been.”
Many residents who attended Bellway’s exhibition went to the Save Mirfield event afterwards.
Save Mirfield are holding a meeting at Mirfield Community Centre on Thursday November 14 from 7.30pm.
A committee and working groups are to be formed. All, including those with other concerns, such as Mirfield25, are welcome to attend.
The group is set to launch a Facebook page. They can also be reached on email at email@example.com.
A spokesman for Bellway Homes said: “We were pleased with the number of people who took the time to view our plans.
“The feedback we received will be helpful prior to us submitting our application to Kirklees Council for consideration.”