Tears and anger as planners say floodplain homes ‘worth the risk’

Tears and anger as planners say floodplain homes ‘worth the risk’
By Tony Earnshaw
Local Democracy Reporter

A HOUSING estate will be built on a floodplain in Mirfield after planners said it was “worth the risk”.

Residents in Hopton Bottom, close to the River Calder, campaigned against the scheme and said senior figures on Kirklees Council were “hell-bent” on driving the project through. Some were in tears as the 67 homes were approved.

The land off Granny Lane was allocated for housing as part of the council’s controversial Local Plan, with Miller Homes due to develop the site.

Residents who formed Granny Lane Area Action Group (GLAAG) to protest against construction work were in Huddersfield Town Hall to voice their concerns.

But after listening to planning officers and drainage experts, members of the Strategic Planning Committee voted in support.

The council’s head of planning, Mathias Franklin, conceded that it was “a challenging site” but that it was allocated for housing within the 

Local Plan.

Coun Carole Pattison commented: “We are strapped for housing. The houses are protected. I think it’s worth the risk and I think that’s what the developer has decided.”

Speaking after the meeting, GLAAG campaigner Veronica Maher criticised the committee, describing the moment of approval as “terrible”.

She said: “When Carole Pattison said it was worth the risk, everyone said, ‘What?’ I just burst into tears. I couldn’t believe it.

“She was saying that our lives and our homes are worth risking. I think even the Miller Homes representatives were shocked.

“The committee was flippant, they were laughing. We wasted our time. They were hell-bent on driving it through.”

Cheryl Tyler, from campaign group Save Mirfield, which has supported GLAAG, took a more aggressive stance.

She accused the council of running a “farcical” planning process in which key evidence had been disregarded to allow the plan to be pre-determined.

She said: “The public consultation date was extended until December 16 but the officer’s report was published on December 12.

“That left just two working days to read and digest anything the public might have submitted during the consultation.

“This is a failure of process, smacking of pre-determination.”

She added: “With one exception – Coun Donald Firth – the planning committee was a joke.”

Members of GLAAG are now considering whether to write to the Ombudsman to raise their concerns that evidence – such as a flood report from a drainage consultancy and a planning lawyer’s letter – were “ignored”.

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