CAMPAIGNERS are gearing up for another round of planning hearings assessing key aspects of Kirklees Council’s Local Plan.
Chidswell Action Group members believe the next few weeks could prove critical as to whether local farmland and green belt is included in proposals to allocate 1,500 houses and 35 hectares of employment land for development in the area.
Group chairman Mark Eastwood said: “We are moving into a key phase within the Local Plan, where the independent planning inspector will assess the suitability of all the specific site allocations, including Chidswell.
“During this stage, Kirklees Council will need to prove exceptional circumstances exist to allow development in the area, something that our planning lawyer will be strongly arguing against and that the Green Belt at Chidswell should be protected at all costs for future generations.”
The group will be represented by planning lawyer Charlotte McKay, of Batley-based IOP Consulting.
There are also proposals for up to 4,000 new homes on green belt between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe, as well as hundreds more at sites in Batley and the Spen Valley.
The Chidswell campaigners have raised enough to cover legal costs up to this point, but still need to pay for full legal representation at the next stage of hearings.
They are staging another fundraising quiz at the Huntsman Inn, on Chidswell Lane, from 8pm on Wednesday February 28.
Mr Eastwood added: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity shown by local residents so far in supporting our fight against Kirklees Council and the Church of England landowners, which we believe has enabled our planning lawyer to build up an effective case against the council’s proposals to decimate the little bit of beautiful unspoilt countryside we have left in the area.
“However, we are still short of what we need to have full legal representation at this most crucial stage of proceedings and any support local residents can give us could make the difference between winning and losing our fight to protect green belt at Chidswell.
“Remember, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”
The Chidswell hearings start on Tuesday February 20 at Huddersfield’s Hudawi Centre and Batley Town Hall on Tuesday February 27.