THE LEADER of an anti-development campaign group says they have been ignored by the Church of England in their bid to stop thousands of homes being built on a green belt site.
Mark Eastwood, head of the Chidswell Action Group, accused the Archbishops of York and Canterbury of turning a blind eye to their attempts to prevent around 1,500 houses being built on Church of England-owned land in Chidswell.
It is part of Kirklees Council’s recently-adopted Local Plan and would see 35 hectares of land turned into homes and industrial units.
Campaigners have put up protest signs along main roads around the site and have planned a ‘peaceful protest event’ for children and families tomorrow (Saturday).
Mr Eastwood said: “We have contacted the Archbishops of York (John Sentamu) and Canterbury (Justin Welby) on several occasions to intervene in this matter, even inviting them to come along to view the site to see it for themselves and judge whether it should be built on, but our concerns and invitations have been completely ignored.
“In biblical terms, this is very much a David and Goliath battle and we will continue to highlight the genuine concerns worried parents have about the impact on their children’s health due to the inevitable increase in exhaust emissions and air pollution caused by thousands of extra cars on the area’s already-congested roads, should the development be given the go-ahead in the autumn.
“When you take that all into account it is astonishing that the church are still prepared to put profit before the health and wellbeing of our children.”
The group is hosting a Teddy Bears’ Picnic event tomorrow (12noon) at The Huntsman Inn, off Chidswell Lane for local children and their families. There’ll be a letter and drawing competition, with all entries being presented to the Archbishop of York in September.
Mr Eastwood added: “Ultimately we are fighting to preserve the farmland and ancient woodland for our children and future generations to enjoy and we are hoping that by getting youngsters to write and send pictures to the Archbishop of York, he will finally take notice of what is being proposed in the church’s name.”