Balderstone Hall developers to search for mine workings

The fields at Balderstone Hall
The fields at Balderstone Hall

Developers behind a controversial housing project in Mirfield are to scour the site for unrecorded mine workings.

Bellway Homes are to write to residents living close to Balderstone Hall Fields, which has been earmarked for a housing estate.

They will be told that fencing will be put up prior to the start of “ground investigation works” following advice by the Coal Authority.

Any hitherto unidentified mine workings can then be dealt with via “foundation solutions” in advance of what Bellway appears to believe will be a positive determination of its application by planning officers.

The move to fence off the area follows a complaint by Mirfield town councillor and Project Mirfield campaigner Steve Benson after workmen dug a “massive” hole just yards from his house, which overlooks the site, in mid-July.

He said a team acting on behalf of Bellway excavated an old mine shaft which was so deep they failed to find the bottom.

He demanded pre-warning of any further investigatory work.

“They were digging and trying to locate the depth of a coal entry,” he said. “It was a massive hole, 6m deep by 8m wide, and only about 14m from my house.

“It was filled with dirty material and they didn’t get to the bottom because I filmed the entire operation.

“Now they are going to fence off the whole field. They will then remove the top layer of soil, which will identify coal features.

“There may also be underground pockets of methane gas, which is highly flammable and very dangerous.

“A robust foundation solution will tell them how they are going to overcome their problems and build next to existing mine workings.

“The Coal Authority have already told them that they cannot build on or near a coal feature even if they cap it.”

Clr Benson said the Bellway letter to residents mentions 60 dwellings, a reduction by one.

He suggested this was in reaction to the Coal Authority’s stated concerns that one planned home was too close to period mine workings, and that it had been removed.

“Have they removed that house already?” he asked. “If so that is a major material change to the application. It doesn’t represent the one that they started with.”

Project Mirfield is urging protesters to add their names to a new objection, which has already been signed by more than 100 people. It can be found at projectmirfield.co.uk.