Campaign warning over homes go-ahead

CAMPAIGNERS in Mirfield are seeking a public enquiry after a controversial housing development was approved, then 'suspended'.

The Lady Heton Action Group has written to Secretary of State Eric Pickles after initially losing its battle with Ben Bailey Homes.

Members feared that councillors set a precedent last Friday which has implications for residents across the entire district.

But the Government on Wednesday told Kirklees Council not to submit their approval notice for 21 days.

Whitehall planning chiefs will review the decision over that period and could set it aside.

It comes after Ben Bailey Homes won permission to build 32 instead of 36 homes off Kitson Hill Road with amended drawings.

The company had earlier gained approval for its scheme despite alleged breaches of planning policy.

The application was brought back before Kirklees Council’s Heavy Woollen Planning sub-committee at Cleckheaton Town Hall.

Councillors heard as many as 10 homes still do not comply with a rule setting out how close properties can be.

There should be 21m between habitable room windows or 12m from such a window and a blank wall, or the window of a non-habitable room.

A council report stated this can be ignored due to the lack of a current planning strategy, such as a Local Plan.

The report said: “At present, the council is unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land...

“Therefore the provision of new housing to meet the shortfall is a material consideration that weighs in favour of the development proposed.”

Peter Morgan, of the action group, said: “Developers have been given a blank cheque to build as many houses as they can on small pieces of land. This sets a dangerous precedent where any company could argue for the policy to be set aside because of housing need.”

Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dewsbury East) said as committee chairman he is staying neutral on the issue.

He added: “I welcome people complaining. It’s their right and a part of democracy.

“If residents feel there’s a challenge to be made then that’s what they should do – and they’ve actually done well in getting the Government to launch a review.”

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