Dewsbury councillors vow to support campaigners in green belt scrap

COUNCILLORS have vowed to carry on backing campaigners fighting to protect green belt in Dewsbury from development.
About 500 homes are earmarked for Chidswell and 1,000 across Dewsbury South under a planning strategy approved on Wednesday.
Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dewsbury East) and Coun Khizar Iqbal (Con, Dewsbury South) both voted against the plan at a 13hour Huddersfield meeting.
But campaigners have not completely lost the battle as the Government is set to change the planning laws next year.
The council, which may just reaffirm Wednesday’s vote at a later date, could have to rethink their Local Development Framework (LDF).
It centres on the abolition of housing targets in the Government’s ‘localism bill’, which allows residents to devise their own neighbourhood plans.
Coun Kane said: “I was up at 8am on Thursday texting and emailing Chidswell campaigners, saying they should start on their own local plan.
“I actually approve of 95 per cent of what’s in the LDF. The five per cent was Chidswell and that’s why I voted against.
“I’ll never be in favour of that. There’s plenty of brownfield sites which can be used instead and that would be better for Dewsbury’s regeneration.”
The LDF was approved after Labour, the Lib Dems, Greens and independents agreed on a compromise deal which the Tories voted against.
Cleckheaton will see 10 hectares of land given over for businesses, a cut of six hectares from the original proposals.
Fifteen hectares of land will be available for industry at Birstall, a reduction of one hectare, while 42 hectares will be released near Cooper Bridge.
Coun Iqbal said of the Dewsbury South homes plan: “This is not done and dusted by a long way. Wednesday’s decision carries no legal weight.
“The council will have to look at this again in light of the localism bill. My message to campaigners therefore is that we should carry on fighting."
He spoke out following a speech at the meeting against the plans by Bill Beattie of the Thornhill Lees Community Action Group.
Mr Beattie said: “The true reason for choosing our village is to obtain £25mplus from the sale of 50 acres of land adjacent to Ravensthorpe Road.
“This and the adjoining 120 acres of land that you also propose to utilise is used to produce arable crops and dairy products.
“We are being asked to cut our carbon footprint. Take these resources away and it will do the opposite, as we can only replace by importing.
“One of the criteria for development is existing infrastructure. The schools and medical facilities here are already full, with no room to expand.
“Once our green belt is gone, it’s lost forever. I’m sure these targets can be achieved without taking away our irreplaceable green belt.”

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