‘Practice what you preach’ call to church over land sale

‘Practice what you preach’ call to church over land sale

CAMPAIGNERS accused religious leaders of hypocrisy after a fresh bid to stop the concreting-over of Dewsbury fields failed.

The Chidswell Action Group (CAG) discussed the fate of green belt land off Leeds Road with Church of England Commissioners on Wednesday.

A meeting at Woodkirk Country Club ended with the church signalling intent to press on.

The commissioners own the land and made it available for development under Kirklees Council’s Local Plan.

Some 1,500 homes and 50 hectares of industry could go on the fields up to the year 2031.

CAG hoped the church commissioners would withdraw the land before any plans go before councillors.

At the meeting was John Weir, head of strategic land investment for the church commissioners, and Nolan Tucker of WYG consulting.

CAG spokesman Mark Eastwood said: “We’re disappointed but not surprised by the stance of the the church commissioners.

“As a group we think the Church of England needs to practice what it preaches. You have the Archbishop of York and the previous and current Archbishop of Canterbury giving sermons about the evils of capitalism.

“Yet they’re happy to turn a blind eye to their commissioners, who are desperate to sell the land for maximum profit.

“This is a slap in the face for the local community and the whole thing reeks of hypocrisy on the part of the church.

“However, we shall continue to fight both the church and the council to the bitter end.”

CAG appointed planning lawyer Charlotte McKay to fight their case after fundraising by the group. She was at the meeting and Mr Eastwood said: “We attended with only one thing in mind.

“That was to demand the church withdraw their plans and preserve precious farmland and ancient woodland at Chidswell for future generations.

“While the meeting was amicable, both sides failed to reach any agreement on the future of the land.

“The church commissioners signalled their intent to press ahead with plans to sell off the land to the highest bidder, despite huge opposition from residents.”

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