Marching on!

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MORE than 1,000 protesters took to the streets as the fight to protect green belt land in Chidswell intensified.

The march last Saturday, by Chidswell Action Group, was in opposition to plans for 500 homes and 35 hectares of industrial development off the A653 Leeds Road.

The proposals are part of Kirklees Council’s development blueprint – the Local Development Framework – which looks at development up to 2028. But growing public anger at the plans has persuaded two major parties to call for an urgent rethink.

This week, the three main parties set out their own alternative plans.

The Tories said they would use no green belt land at all and the number of new houses being planned for Kirklees should be reduced from 25,400 to 18,000.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats called for more land previously used for industry to be redeveloped.

And in both parties’ plans, the ‘mill mile’ between Batley and Dewsbury would be turned into a zone for new businesses.

In Labour plans, no houses would be built at Chidswell and the number of houses being planned for Kirklees overall has been reduced by 2,930.

But Chidswell land would be used for employment, and 950 homes would be built on green belt land in south Dewsbury.

Labour leader Coun Mehboob Khan said: “Selective release of green belt in Dewsbury will provide a substantial boost for Dewsbury town centre.”

Organisers of Saturday’s march estimated more than 1,200 people took part.

Action group chairman Rod Lilley said the council had to reconsider its plans in light of the huge level of opposition.

He said: “I want to thank everyone who turned out. If the council don’t take this area off the LDF, then they’ve seen nothing yet.”

The action group will demonstrate at a full council meeting next Wednesday when all 69 Kirklees councillors vote on whether to pursue the LDF plans as they are. There is a meeting tonight about the LDF at Thornhill Lees Community Centre at 7pm where Coun Khan and Dewsbury MP Simon Reevell are expected to attend.