By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
CAMPAIGNERS in Mirfield who fought to stop pastureland being turned into a housing estate say the land has been reinstated.
Topsoil has been spread on Balderstone Hall Fields, storage bunds removed and the ground levelled, with metal security fencing taken down.
All that now remains on the site is a portable toilet, the only reminder of development work ordered by Newcastle-based builder Bellway Homes.
It is three months since locals spoke out at Huddersfield Town Hall, when Kirklees Council planners refused Bellway’s scheme for 60 homes on the site near Grade II-listed Balderstone Hall.
But whilst they are happy to see the land return to its natural state, they say the council has dragged its heels over liaising with Bellway.
Cheryl Tyler, of campaign group Save Mirfield, said: “The only thing left is a portaloo. The hardware has been taken away. It’s all flat now.
“The next step will be to have it seeded in the spring.
“We’re all very pleased. We would like to see it back to grazing land.
“It has taken a bit of pushing to get the council’s enforcement team to get Bellway to do it.
“It seems they wanted to try and persuade Bellway to do it rather than force them to do it.
“We’ve been sending emails from our lawyer asking enforcement to get them to reinstate it.”
Bellway workers were active on the land, off Woodward Court, throughout last summer.
Topsoil was stripped away to enable an archaeological survey to take place in order to map historic coal mine workings.
Telecommunications cabling was laid in the run-up to the application being heard on October 25 by Kirklees Council.
But in a move that surprised everyone, the council’s strategic planning committee went against officers’ recommendations and turned down the plan.
It led to jubilant scenes in Huddersfield Town Hall as shell-shocked campaigners, some in tears, celebrated an unlikely victory.
Fellow campaigner Steve Benson, a Mirfield town councillor and chairman of Project Mirfield, said there is interest in the town for buying the 11-acre parcel of land.
He said: “Mirfield Town Council has contacted Bellway Homes to put in a bid to buy the fields at agricultural prices – £13,000 per acre.
“A handful of people have also contacted Bellway with a view to buying or leasing the land.”