CAMPAIGNERS say they will fight all the way against plans to build more than 250 homes on farmland in Dewsbury.
Barratt Homes has launched a bid to develop a 7.7-hectare site off Owl Lane, opposite the Tetley’s Stadium – but residents fear if it gets the go-ahead then a much larger 1,500-home scheme on nearby green fields is more likely to gain approval.
The Chidswell Action Group have been campaigning since 2013 to protect countryside earmarked for development as part of Kirklees Council’s Local Plan, and members will meet with a lawyer next week to discuss submitting a detailed objection.
Barratt’s application comes just weeks after councillors were given a preview of intentions for the larger Chidswell plot, most of which is owned by the Church of England.
Some 1,500 homes and an industrial park could eventually be built on land previously designated as green belt.
The scheme is one of the largest in North Kirklees, second only to the 4,000-home Dewsbury Riverside plan on land between Ravensthorpe and Thornhill Lees.
Barratt’s latest plan for 252 houses on land adjacent to existing homes between Windsor Road, Owl Lane and Chidswell Lane includes a roundabout on Owl Lane to allow access to the new estate.
Close to the Kirklees/Wakefield district boundary, it includes 202 homes for private buyers and 50 for social tenants or those buying through “affordable homes” schemes.
On the opposite side of Owl Lane is the relatively new Amberwood chase development of more than 200 homes, and residents say the extra housing would put even more strain on already creaking infrastructure.
Further applications on the Chidswell site are expected in the coming months.
Mark Eastwood, chairman of Chidswell Action Group, said: “Following a recent meeting we have unanimously decided to lodge an objection to this site and have asked local residents to do the same.
“We are not in the business of objecting to every development that is proposed in the area, however, we firmly believe that if this site is allowed to go ahead, it will make it much easier for the Church Commissioners to gain approval for plans to develop more than 1,500 houses on the main site at Chidswell.
“We are meeting with our planning lawyer next week and will be instructing her to submit a more detailed objection on behalf of the group.”
Yesterday (Thurs) Mr Eastwood asked Kirklees Council chief executive Jacqui Gedman for an extension on filing objections after residents complained they couldn’t access the council’s planning portal.
He said in an email: “Due to this unacceptable situation, as a group we have decided to obtain formal objections directly from residents in hard copy format, which we would like to post on to Kirklees Council.”
Barratt Homes’ application is likely to be dealt with by the council’s Heavy Woollen Planning Sub-Committee in the next few months.
Coun Aleks Lukic (Dewsbury Borough Independent, Dewsbury East) said: “The affected sites at Chidswell were legally allocated for new housing earlier this year by the Labour administration that controls Kirklees Council.
“I agree with my constituents who say that this open countryside is not an appropriate location for such large-scale housebuilding, but refusing a compliant application on allocated land would almost certainly be overturned by an appeal and cost a significant amount of public money. As one of the largest housebuilders I expect Barratt Homes to work as good community neighbours if their application is approved.
“I encourage residents to submit their comments to Kirklees Council for consideration before September 24.”
The ward’s two Labour councillors, Cathy Scott and Paul Kane, were approached for a comment but did not respond.