DEWSBURY RAMS and a host of community groups were celebrating this week after a housing plan that will deliver nearly £5m of investment and new facilities was given the green light.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has rubber-stamped the plan for Harron Homes to build 206 homes on the former Shaw Cross colliery site, bordered by Owl Lane and Wakefield Road.
“The Secretary of State’s decision is great news,” said Rams chairman Mark Sawyer on Thursday. “It’s been a long, hard road to bring much-needed facilities to both the club and the community.”
The plan was approved by Kirklees councillors but because it is nominally on green belt land, had to be called in by government. The deal secures the longer term future of the Dewsbury Rams, who will share a £4.9m windfall with Kirklees and community groups.
Harron Homes have promised to provide a full size, floodlit all-weather sports pitch, plus two floodlit all-weather multi-use games areas suitable for a variety of sports including five-a-side football.
The Rams, who will start the 2015 in the new format Championship, have just appointed Damian Gibson as a rugby league development officer to work in local schools, and have created a new second team as part of their own ambitious plans.
“It will probably be 18 months before we get our all-weather training pitch,” added Mr Sawyer. “The club desperately needs it, but so do other local organizations. When that happens we’ll look to grow our community development activity.”
The developers will also build a new 334-space car park for the Rams, and create a park extending along the western boundary of the site – between the houses in the Bywell Road and Bywell Close area.
It is thought workers could be on site before Christmas, with the project starting early in the new year.
Apart from the cash benefits, Kirklees Council should also benefit from a Government new homes premium – central funding to help them deliver extra services in the area.
The Dewsbury East ward would also receive extra trickle-down funding as a result of the property influx.
A spokesman for Harron Homes said: “Harron Homes are looking forward to delivering a first class housing development and community facilities at the Dewsbury Rams site. We will now look to implement the planning decision in the New Year and get the development underway.”
A spokesman for lead developers Stirling Scotfield said: “We very much welcome the decision by the Secretary of State to allow the development to proceed at the Owl Lane site and thank all those involved at the club, at Harron Homes and Kirklees Council who have worked hard to bring forward this regeneration project.”