CAMPAIGNERS in Mirfield have blasted Kirklees Council as ‘insensitive’ and ‘thoughtless’ after officials asked the public to come up with name for a new road before planning permission for a controversial development has been approved.
A plan to build 61 houses on Balderstone Fields, off Wellhouse Lane, is yet to be put before a planning committee to make a decision.
But last week a press release was sent to Mirfield councillors stating “suggestions are invited from interested persons for names to be considered for allocation to a new street to serve residential development off land adjacent, Woodward Court, off Wellhouse Lane.”
According to the council, it is “standard practice” to ask for suggestions on road names – but they have now backed down and halted the naming exercise.
Property developers Bellway Homes want to build three and four-bed homes on the greenfield site.
But plans have already been turned down twice, and campaigners are opposing them again because of traffic congestion, infrastructure and drainage issues.
The battle between developers and campaigners at Balderstone Fields has lasted two decades, and last month a team from the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service found evidence of mine workings and 2,000-year-old Iron Age roads, which could also have an impact on the plans.
Cheryl Tyler, chairman of Save Mirfield, said: “It’s such a contentious site that it seems very insensitive of the council to make people think that it’s a done deal before it’s even been before the planning committee.
“If people think something is a done deal they might not turn up at the strategic planning committee. It just seemed insensitive and wrong.
“Although the council say this is normal practice, if it was normal practice then when they were challenged about it why did they agree to take it down?
“They must have thought it was insensitive as well, otherwise they would have carried on.
“Kirklees doesn’t have a fantastic reputation anyway, and if they really want to make their reputation worse this is the kind of thing they should do.”
Mrs Tyler added: “There’s an incredible amount of opposition to this site ñ as there has been for 20 years.
“Don’t forget this isn’t the first application on this site, it’s the third. So the council should be aware how contentious this site is, and to do this is incredibly insensitive.”
Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) described the Kirklees officials’ move as “thoughtless” but the council’s strategic director for economy and infrastructure, Karl Battersby, said: “The process of consulting or asking for suggestions on road names is standard practice and does not give any indication of whether planning permission would or would not be granted.
“This process is the same for all new developments where new roads are created, and is not particular to this application. We have now stopped the process in this case.”
Kirklees Council are due to make a decision on whether to give the plans the green light at a planning meeting on Thursday August 2 ñ almost three months after the original deadline of May 10.