Release of green belt will attract £600m backing

RELEASING green belt land in Dewsbury for development will attract £600m of investment to the town, a top councillor claimed. Lib Dem leader Kath Pinnock (Cleckheaton) said it would come from the building of new homes, business premises and infrastructure improvements. About 500 homes are earmarked for Chidswell and another 1,000 for Dewsbury South. She said backing the Local Development Framework plan was the “most difficult decision of my political career”. But Coun Pinnock and other LibDems voted in favour, due to what they see as the wider regeneration benefits for Dewsbury. “Residents will say we didn’t listen,” Coun Pinnock said. “But we did and none of us wanted to see green belt land released for development.Regenerating Dewsbury is a priority for the council and we want to hold them to it. If there was another site, we’d have gone with that.” She highlighted Cleckheaton as an example of what can happen and added: “A thousand new homes have gone in over the last 10 years. “We’ve also had a business park and Cleckheaton’s thriving. There’s probably only one empty shop in the town centre.” Lib Dem Coun Karam Hussain (Dewsbury West) said: “This is a onceinalifetime chance. To ignore it would condemn Dewsbury to continued decline. “Many shops are empty, unemployment is a problem and there is a housing shortage. “Under this plan there will be new homes and jobs along with investment in highways infrastructure, public amenities and schools.” Coun Andrew Palfreeman (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw) rubbished the idea the green belt had to be sacrificed to achieve this. He said of the Chain Bar business park at Cleckheaton: “Lots of land was allocated under the old Urban Development Plan. “But only a few firms ever built there. The rest has never been developed. So it’s not the case that green belt is the only land available.”

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