Tree protectors face developers at meeting

Anthony Milek of Lady Heton Drive.
Anthony Milek of Lady Heton Drive.

Potential developers of land in Mirfield faced a grilling from town councillors and the public this week.

Agent Tom Cook from ID Planning and Ben Smith from Ben Bailey Homes faced questions at Mirfield Town Council’s Wednesday meeting about plans to build on the land behind Lady Heton Drive.

Indicative layouts showing 37 homes were handed out which could be built if planning permission is granted.

News that the private land might be developed was greeted with outrage from residents.

Many were dismayed when around 30 trees, many bordering their own gardens, were felled on the land last month without consultation.

Residents said they felt it was carried out recklessly to make room for as much housing as possible.

Darren Aveyard, of Lady Heton Drive, outlined his concerns at the meeting.

He said: “The landscape has changed totally – the wildlife habitat has been destroyed.”

A letter to residents from one of the landowners, John Hinchcliffe, apologised for the disruption but said the trees were not of sufficient visual value to warrant saving.

Last month, 19-year-old student Anthony Milek took a stand against the contractors who were pulling down the trees behind his garden.

He and his brother Simon have been guarding the last remaining tree by sitting underneath it.

But it was given a stay of execution after residents secured a promise from Mr Smith not to allow the tree to be felled without further consultation.

Mr Aveyard also raised concerns about drainage and disruption, as well over-development generally. “The infrastructure in Mirfield is broken,” he said.

Coun Martyn Bolt raised concerns about the lack of open space in the proposed layout. “Children will have to play out in the streets,” he added. Several residents raised concerns about any development adding to congestion in the town.

Mr Smith stressed that the plans were in the early stages, that planning permission had not yet been granted and that residents’ opinions would be taken into account through further consultation.