CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 4,000 homes on green belt land in Dewsbury and Mirfield have been given the go-ahead.
The Dewsbury Riverside development was approved by Kirklees Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, despite years of vocal opposition from campaigners and politicians.
The ‘masterplan’ promises up to 4,000 quality homes supported by new schools, roads and shops.
It will be located on a 160-hectare site in south Dewsbury, on land to the south of Ravensthorpe and south east of Mirfield – meaning around 500 homes would be built over the ward boundary in Mirfield.
The development forms part of the Local Plan development blueprint, which was approved by Kirklees councillors on February 27.
But ruling Labour officials and developers Miller Homes have been criticised for not considering the impact the thousands of new homes would have on the infrastructure of Mirfield and Dewsbury.
Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt said the council’s decision not to develop any new roads until after thousands of the homes were built ‘hadn’t been thought through’.
“In 2013 there was going to be a Ravensthorpe relief road,” said Coun Bolt. “But nobody has been able to find a report that it was going ahead. Where have the plans gone?
“Look at Wakefield Council: they are building new roads first and then housing.
“We haven’t got any roads built before a major development.”
Coun Peter McBride, cabinet member for regeneration, said the council has money to develop the North Kirklees Orbital road, which he said “will take the pressure away” from roads in Ravensthorpe.
Kirklees say the new riverside village will have a large public park at its centre, with six neighbourhoods around it, connected and surrounded by woodlands, walking and cycle routes, bridle paths, allotments and natural play areas to encourage residents to live healthy lifestyles.
The first 1,869 new homes, a village centre, a new primary school and parks and public facilities will be built over the next 15 years.
The centre of the village will include a GP practice, pharmacy, care provision for elderly people, a relocated mosque and small retail outlets, as well as community sports pitches and play areas.
The remaining 2,131 homes would be developed in phases up to the year 2045, with a secondary school and another primary school to be delivered alongside.
Kirklees said that proposed improvements to Ravensthorpe railway station and the Transpennine rail link would make the development attractive for commuters.
But Coun Bolt pointed out that in the documents there are plans to move the railway station, despite it previously being earmarked for refurbishment.
He said: “There are so many flaws. It hasn’t been thought through at all. You can build 4,000 homes but you have to consider the community. I think people have been short-changed.”
The council has submitted a Local Growth Fund bid of £4.6m to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and a bid of £22.5m to the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund. Leader of the council Shabir Pandor said: “This is a great example of how our Local Plan helps us map out where the new, good-quality housing we need is built in Kirklees.
“In Dewsbury Riverside we’re creating something truly unique and innovative with a new community, complete with the facilities and infrastructure needed.
“This exciting development will not only help us meet the growing need for quality housing but will also encourage those living there to lead healthy lives by making use of the large amount of public green space.
“We have a great ambition for Dewsbury and the whole of Kirklees. This development, alongside the investments we’re making to regenerate Dewsbury town centre, are all part of our commitment to see all of our towns, villages and valleys thrive.
“Ambitious schemes such as this are all part of the council’s vision to ensure Kirklees is a great place to live, work and do business.”